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Madame Einzige: A Thematic Outline (Part 1/2)

Introduction — “Ex Nihilo”: Origins in European Nihilism — The Banality of Evil — Germany: Unified, Conquered, Divided, Occupied — Germany: The Legacy of the Statist Frankenstein —

(Written by Ismael Sarepta)

Madame Einzige is an upcoming philosophical epic Cypherpunk novel series, drawing from the author’s intense research of political science, technology, computing, philosophy, psychology — in which historical pattern is combined with speculative imagination, into a prophetic synthesis.

It is a novel series, where religious theocracies weave technologies of virtual-reality, cyberspace, and mass surveillance into State-wide system of totalitarianism, in order to magnify the holy and majestic feelings with God and Clergy;

Where disenfranchised, disillusioned, cyber-prosthetic U.S. veterans violently take up arms against a government that failed to re-integrate them into society, and failed to uphold the American values they risked their lives for;

Where socially neglected computer nerds and failed upstarts realize themselves as the medium through which democracy may defend itself — through hacktivism, and going beyond mere website vandalism to do it and discover the political empowerment of the personal computer.

[Caption: Disenfranchised young U.S. Veterans throwing away their medals during protest. Historically, discharged war veterans that have failed to be re-integrated into society have been the first to organize revolts against the State. Will the same happen to the United States in the 21st century?]It is a novel series where occult-obsessed mathematicians and computer scientists crunch combinatorial sets and sacred permutations in order to develop algorithms for self-aware, disembodied Artificial Intelligences that instantly prophecize the future from petabytes of mined Informatics data;

Where war vets and megalomaniacs form Private Military Companies, offering their services to dictators and warlords, and are paid in land, market-monopolies, drugs, and an exploitable labor force;

Where certain corporations, under the guise of faux-humanitarianism and anti-piracy (and knowing that most piracy actually takes place outside of Western nations), attempt to replace the personal computer in developing countries, by selling mass, nationwide Cloud-computing, Mainframe-like networks to these countries, enabling their governments to data-mine the Cloud for anyone deemed a dissident, criminal, revolutionary, or spy–

[Caption: Topological Map of the “Backbone” of the Internet (click to enlarge, PDF) — how much is humanity’s presence on the Web an accurate portrayal of us? How much does your online presence accurately portray you? Can the sum of humanity’s recorded interactions with a computer really be used to predict our future?] 

Madame Einzige is epic storytelling in which reality and art, analysis and imagination, science and mythopoesis, narration and reporting, blend seamlessly together for the Zeitgeist of the Third Millennium.

Art imitates life: life imitates art.

“Ex Nihilo”: Origins in European Nihilism

The origins of our protagonist, our Cypherpunk (anti-)heroine take us to the very beginnings of this postmodern era of Pax Americanaour era, following the Second World War, defined by the political and cultural ascendancy of the United States, and prevalence of what we have come loosely to understand as “free market capitalism” and “democracy”. The origins of our Cyberpunk protagonist take us to the Climax of Europe’s collective paranoid angst — that is, the Two World Wars — that angst that unwitting drove Europe’s hegemonic, imperial, nationalistic, war-hawk path to self-destruction.

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huesoflife asked you:
Hi I happened upon your tumblr because you liked one of my posts. Your posts are very intellectually stimulating so that makes me wonder, what are some of your favorite books? Also, I noticed that you have a myriad of interests, what major did you pursue in college, if you don’t mind me asking?

Why thank you!

I apologize if this post is a little long, but do hope it will be interesting. Probably best to read it in small bites.

As you may have guessed, since I do have a very wide range of interests, it’s quite a task for me to pick out my favorite books! I do read a lot of books, but I also learn by watching lectures, documentaries, listening to audiobooks, talking to people, and even just taking what I’ve learned and applying it to experiences. I also read academic papers, encyclopedias (not just Wikipedia), or sometimes I’ll just read a chapter from a book. I think how I’ll reply to your question is that I’ll mention at subjects and bodies of work in general. Here goes—

The writings of Friedrich Nietzsche, especially Beyond Good and Evil, his essay called On Truth and Lies in a Non-moral Sense, and a book called The Gay Science (sometimes translated as The Joyful Wisdom). Unlike many philosophers, Nietzsche’s writings are very accessible for anyone with a pretty good command of whatever language they’re reading him in.

Among many things, Nietzsche’s work centers around highlighting the inherent dissonance between human consciousdesires, reason, and our spontaneous organic nature (actually, for Nietzsche, reason is intimately bound up in being afunction of our organic-nature selves. Same goes with our conscious desires.) Put in modern Cognitive Science/Psychology terms, he’s pointing out the dissonance and the unity of humanexecutive functions, instinct, personality characteristics, habituation, and the subconscious, but also the unity that this internal conflict leads to.

These were revolutionary ideas for the 19th century, hugely influential on Freud and the foundation of modern psychology, and still remains a prominent force in modern philosophy, psychology, sociology and anthropology. However, I don’t believe Nietzsche’s critique has been fully appreciated or realized by the public at large, or by science.

As well, I do like Nietzsche’s breaking downexceptionalism and the sorts of myths we tell ourselves in order to conceive of such exceptionalism. Exceptionalism is the belief that a particular group is superior because this group is totally separate from underlying patterns and conditions that affect all things — it either wasn’t effect by them, or overcame them wholly. He does a lot of critiquing ofGerman exceptionalism (he was German himself, and German nationalism was starting to pick up as a prominent political force when he was writing in the late 19th century [Germany didn’t become a unified nation until 1871]), Western Christian exceptionalism(especially Protestantism), European exceptionalism and Europe’s imperial heritage, and I think most importantly, Human exceptionalism, and our tendency to try to separate us from Nature and animals.

Yet, another major theme in Nietzsche is the universal nature and diversity of humanity, and the universal nature ofconditions and patterns that make up all organisms, including humans.

His concept of “Philosophical Genealogy” (this warrants a future essay to get into!) is also a major influence on my approach to human history, politics, and even to some extent my approach to what’s cutely being called “Big History”.

Big History is a vast interdisciplinary approach to history that looks over mass time scales of the past 14.5 billion years of the universe. It studies the evolution of physical forces, the elements and substances, the origin of life, biological systems and the biosphere, and in particular how all of this has formed human origins and history. David Christian is the main figure in this discipline — and while I’m not 100% in agreement with all of his work, I do strongly recommend his work, and I think his approach to history is just awesome.

The Critique of Pure Reason (Kritik der reinen Vernunft) by Immanual Kant. This book is a dense read. It was written in the late 18th century, and it’s a critique of the philosophical-scientific traditional as it was known at the time. The main thesis of the book is pointing out that  reason, judgement, sensation, and the sorts of insight we can gather from experimentation and speculation, are entirely dependent on us as a spontaneously organized orgasm. Reason does not exist in a void — reason is conditioned by the limitations of our experience and the mind. There’s a tendency in many of us intellectual inclined to naively value this “pure reason” and totally ignore the spontaneous, non-rational conditions that make all of our experiences possible (including what we can and cannot think about) in the first place.

Of course, the Critique goes much deeper than this. It immensely influenced Albert Einstein, many scientists from the 19th century, and many Quantum scientists of the 20th. It was probably a reading inspired by Kant that got Einstein to seriously think about the nature of the Observer, and how the Observer influences the very experiment he is trying to conduct by just observing it. (Probably also some Hegel in there, and Ernst Mach.)

Unfortunately,  Kant’s work is neglected by scientists these days — which I don’t blame them for, because “professional philosophy” practiced in the academia is becoming a very, very, very pedantic and pretentious subject, filled with useless dogmatic schisms over hair-splitting trifles. There’s also a lot of hyper-specialization going on in the academia, which prevents these multi-disciplinary insights. (See my essay on this subject [link].)

But I do think Kant has some very valuable insight into modern scientific practices and investigations. For instance, we see how much emphasis is placed in science nowadays onsimulation, data-mining, and certain paradigms that neglect the influence of the observer; or how there is a tendency in science to assume a one-to-one congruency of human conception about an observable phenomenon, and with what’s actually happening. We humans — as thinking, sensing beings — are intimately part of the very experiments that we conduct, and the very patterns we try to investigate.

A reading of Kant can give us valuable insight into this… But if you’re not already into philosophy, it’s a *very* time consuming process to go back and read Kant. I don’t recommend it. You’d have to read who he’s reacting to, reinterpret him in his historical context, and view him in the light of recent developments in science and math if you want him to be a gainful read, etc etc. Basically, we need a new commentator to step up and have another look at Kant for 21st century science and math. Maybe that’ll be me in a few years 😉

Writings of Stephen Jay Gould. He does a lot of work on Evolution, especially breaking down myths about evolution (mths both by Creationists, and people who accept evolution). He does a lot to smash this notion of teleology in evolution (the view that things evolve for a purpose), and a lot of valuable insight into human nature, underlying patterns in biology, etc. He’s also a very accessible and fun read — I highly recommend all of his books!

Favorite historians are Oswald Spengler and Ibn Khaldun — not that I think they were entirely right about everything they wrote (hardly!), but their approach to history is revolutionary. They focused on the collective, aggregateresults of human nature, especially human historical and sociological behavior, as something that can be understood in a greater World-System. There is also an understanding of human civilization, or particular kinds of civilizations, as a kind of organism.

As far as literature goes, hmm. Ludimagister has reminded me how much I love Goethe. The Romantics of the early 19th century — I love their seamless mixing of philosophy, mysticism, and science. William Blake, Percy & Mary Shelley,Schiller… Many 19th century poets actually drew a lot from the scientific tradition, like Robert Frost who actually wrote quite a bit about entropy and heat-death (which arrogant English majors don’t even realize!)

Also am quite fond of political writers like Joseph Conrad,George Orwell.  Russian literature, especially Dostoyevsky, Nabokov, Turgenev, Gogol.

Very fond of cyberpunk, certain science-fiction, historical fiction. And I read a lot of old religious texts and mythology.

Second part of your question:

In university, I majored specifically in Archaeology and Philosophy. (Double-major was required at the particular institution)

But I’ve been self-taught in many subjects since a very early age. As a small child, I used to spend hours at a time watch Discover Channel and TLC (back when it was aboutactually learning) on evolution, astronomy, psychology. My parents weren’t into such things, but they were into politics, so I had an early age exposure to political arguments at the dinner table. Slowly, that turned into an interest into philosophy and politics, then into history, I’ve stuck with it since.

Not to discourage others who, but at least in my particular case, university was the least productive learning experience in my entire life.

Update:

Btw, I absolutely love your art. Phenomenal astronomy work, wow, completely awe-inspiring. I highly recommend everyone to check it out! [Link to gallery]

[Reply from antigravity000:]

[…]

It’s funny though because after reading your message, particularly the part below, I can only nod my head in agreement!

“their reaction to modernity takes the path of least resistance, which has already been laid down for them by the demons of the Liberal Anglo-American machine — Reactionary Nationalism and Reactionary Religiosity.” [my message]

I can’t recall if you’ve read anything by Oswald Spengler, but your own conclusions on modernity, history & philosophy are reminiscent of his discoveries- in other words quite simply sensible & well-rounded!

On Nietzsche, I’m no zealot myself but even when I disagree with some of his topics, his style of writing is really appealing 😛 Aside from that, despite his sort of life-affirming assertions, there is a streak of cynicism, pessimism, and moral righteousness in his ideas that make their way in via his personality (shaped, understandably, by bad life experiences). I can’t help but notice it.

Maybe you have a different take on this that I’d like to learn of but I can’t really grasp what he expects of the ubermensch, and why this type of man hasn’t already existed- in the Western world at least. If he means that the higher type is a creator of values, then I don’t see why power-grabbers who set their own standards (in political, economic, intellectual realms), possibly Machiavellian types?, aren’t a sort of ubermensch in their own right, those who don’t give in to the norms or take advantage of them to get what they want- out of conscious doing or not[…]

To be honest, I’ve only read only read a bit of Spengler’s Decline of the West(the first two chapters of the first volume). I love him. But. My views on history and everything is the result of my own readings — that said, I’m sure I probably have Spengler’s and Hegel’s influence indirectly through my reading of other historians, or something. I entirely agree with Spengler’s organic approach to history, wherein human societies and civilization has its own emergentqualities and consequences that go far beyond human volition, deliberation, even our comprehension — perhaps even to the point that human civilization is its own neural network of some greater emergent organism. This theory of mine admittedly needs heavy refining and intense research before I go flashing it around, though. 🙂

That said, I’m quite (self-)schooled in the German intellectual tradition, so any of my Spengler-esque flashes of insights may just be a convergent coincidencefrom being schooled in the same intellectual fathers! 😉

Nietzsche is awesome — aesthetically, philosophically, everything, even if you don’t agree with him. But, he is a complicated read, seeming to contradict himself (but I think he’s just writing from different angles — and being humorous/sarcastic/playful more than half of the time. I do that a lot myself, so I can understand where he’s coming from {phenomenologically, at least}.) Reading him in translation, and reading him outside of mid-late 19th century European context, are also two very key barriers to understanding Nietzsche.

Regarding Nietzsche’s cynicism and pessimism, much of these passages are actually instances of morbid humor (black humor, really), absurdity, and, well, deliberately trolling his audience. Take his views on the Jews for instance — I remember a quote from memory where he starts a paragraph, “And Jesus said to his Jews…” — that shit is a straight-up trolling of German anti-Semitic ‘purists’. Nietzsche was a troll of the 19th century industrial printing-press era.

The Übermensch is sort of an ideal, yes, but it has existed historically and still does. But, I agree with you that if the Übermensch hasn’t already existed, there’s no reason why it should suddenly pop into existence. (Especially given Nietzsche’s views on Eternal Reoccurance — why were there no Übermenschen before Nietzsche?) Nietzsche has argued in Geneology of MoralsBeyond Good and Evil, and many other works, that such Übermensch-like individuals have existed in remote antiquity, and right up to his contemporary era (Goethe, Napoleon, and Cesare Borgia to name a few.)

The thing about the Übermensch is that, the Übermensch not a set of beliefs. The Übermensch is not an orthodoxy or orthopraxy. The Übermensch is not a dogmatic position. And the Übermensch is not a philosophical or political partisan position.

I understand that Nietzsche’s Ubermensch is surrounded in myth and strange interpretations of the Ubermensch as some kind of self-entitled, greedy, short-sighted, stuck-up, cut-throat asshole like the kind of douchebag you might encounter at an Objectivist meeting — but that’s not what Nietzsche is saying the Ubermensch is.

What the Übermensch isis a complex of dispositions,instinctstemperamentinclinations, a focus of energies, and a general attitude. The focus of the Ubermensch’s is on personal, individual liberation, on carpe diem, on (relative) self-sufficiently, and on self-empowerment. The Ubermensch is not a political view, nor is the Ubermensch expected to hold particular political views — the Ubermensch is not necessarily a “Libertarian” or a “Communist” or a “Centrist” or a “Socialist” — it’s more in the way the Ubermensch carries out life on a personal level. The Ubermensch concernspersonal attitudes — not political or philosophical positions.

I’m rephrasing here, but: Nietzsche has said many times that consciously formed political and philosophical positions are symptoms of our spontaneous subconsciousness and pre-intellectualizing selves that we might be aware of but will not admit. He also says that these consciously formed positions are determined by the context in which they originate.

Eg., taking a position in the academia or in the public forum is very different than, say, in recruiting for a revolution or getting support for political office —as Mitt Romney has demonstrated with his constant flip-flopping on issues, or Obama’s promise of CHANGE. I’m not suggesting that either of these men are Ubermensch, but I’m (and Nietzsche) saying that the conscious mind and what individuals say about themselves is a tiny fraction of their overall package. Such political/philosophical/religious positions are part-in-parcel to the Will to Power, which is actually this spontaneous subconscious and pre-intellectualizing process that can throw itself into the realm of intellectuality.

Basically, ^ is a lengthy way of saying, survival>all.

The Ubermensch is a strange concept to fathom strictly from the standpoint ofphilosophical argumentation alone — Nietzsche provides no argument. It’s a general framework for self-improvement, maybe even emulation? Maybe it’s better read as a kind of self-help book with philosophical overtones.

Just as an aside, the Ubermensch is actually comparable to Aristotle’s Magninmous Man of the Nichomachian Ethics, and from many tropes from ancient Greek mythoi (the so-called “Dionysian man” of Birth of Tragedy — although there are a plethora of Übermensch-like individuals and tropes from other cultures, as mentioned in Genealogy and even the Antichrist)

I think I officially love this person’s Tumblr. Here’s a reply, which sent me into my usual entranced philosophical diatribes and insights–

antigravity000:

Heat can be measured, there are values for its presence whereas ‘coldness’ is simply a description for absence of heat. Cold is the void, heat is space. Nihilism, atheism, absurdism are the voids, faith in god(s), in creative forces, is space.

I like this.

It’s funny, isn’t it? Once we stick that -ism on Nihilism, we have Nihilists — followers — who consciously adopt a system of philosophy they want to associate with Nihilism. But in adopting a system, they affirm an identity, and in affirming an identity, you now have an identity — a positive thing — associated with yourself. It’s quite literally counter-intuitive for someone to consciously adopt Nihilism.

I’ve always thought true Nihilism would actually be closer with simply lacking in  self-criticality, or any thinking what so ever — this McDonalds, MTV, Nike culture of the 21st century is true Nihilism, for example.

True atheism isn’t the scientific rationalization of the universe and coming to the conclusion that gods don’t exist — true atheism is just the complete lack of any form of theistic insight of belief: apathetically avoiding religion, or apathetically/ignorantly following religion. (This was Nietzsche’s point about atheism, actually, and how atheism is actually just the deification of humanity sublimated over the Abrahamic God. Hence, why he’s quoted for saying “God is dead”, and not for saying “God doesn’t exist”)

And true absurdity, is just the doing absurd things without reflecting on them. This is just the common condition of daily life.

So basically, what I mean to say is, the greatest of the Nihilists are not the suffering, paralyzingly self-critical characters from the pages of Dostoyevsky or Turgenev, or that angsty youth clad in a leather trench coat. The greatest Nihilists are the Kim Kardiashians and Paris Hiltons of this world.

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