01 March 2015

Subjects of Recent Interest

Extinction Aesthetic - Tom Baumgartner
Extinction Symbol. Dark Extropianism. Apocalyptic Witchcraft. Dark Mountain. Uncivilisation. In The Dust Of This Planet. Health Goth. Accelerationism. After Nature/Dark Ecology/Ecognosis. Early signals: The New Nihilism, Speculative Realism, Neoreaction, Occulture. Cusp: Toxic Internet. Post-Westphalian. Developing (if only in my own low-powered head.  Picking black flowers early in the day).
-Warren Ellis

I just love lists. The following are my discoveries and trails of referential mania sparked by Warren's list.

Extinction Icon

Extinction Aesthetic / Dark Ecology

The human catastrophe has already happened, we're just watching the fallout. World history is a series of overlapping catastrophes and periods of stasis. What kind of culture develops and dresses for the funeral of planet Earth? A gothic one obsessed with death of course. Curl up on the couch with some strong black tea and have some extinction fiction or dim the lights and indulge in some doom porn.

Though I'm optimistic we will squeak by to the next step of evolution, medals given out to charitable tech billionaires and citizen scientists, it won't happen until we finally see ourselves as not separate from nature. This threw me out into some art aesthetic philosophy by Timothy Morton. We set nature high on a pedestal away from ourselves. Ecology is it's replacement, dark ecology, where we face the grim reality of where our meat comes from and the cell phone in your pocket is why there's a giant hole in the ground somewhere - the invisible meshes every living being is involved in. Not in a hippie-dippy energy way, but in a direct, Newtonian engineering sort of way.

Health Goth

I love birthing creative movements like this. Living on the space station, or maybe being on part of the colonization team, what do you wear? The most comfortable clothes with the most hi-tech materials and design are in the world of sports. Is there such a thing as formal, dark sportswear? Yes there is. I love the inventiveness of asymmetrical zippers, one-legged compression pants, sleeves with thumb holes, silky synthetics, adjustable shock running shoes without laces and faux corsets. It always makes sense to have your clothing work for you. With my Brandoesque physique, I'm not jumping on this trend-subculture any time soon, but my inner futurian wants it bad.

Though is there more than just limiting your fashion to black and white? There is a tech savvy, weaponized intelligence about it. A youth culture digerati expressing elite skills through their functional fashion. Part ninja, part hacker, part cyborg, part athlete. Transhumanism fetish.

Apocalyptic Witchcraft

Peter Grey walks you through an exhaustive history of magick and witchcraft building a case for an edge society who are ultimately the defenders of the earth. Feared by societies that found nature to be the source of all evil, they were unjustly scapegoated and marginalized for their clear vision. Presently, Grey throws artists, musicians, and writers into this edge group. Grey calls for a revolutionary defense of Mother Nature, Earth-First style. Although my personal exploration of magick revealed the multiple crossovers it has with art, I'm not convinced that grass-roots sit-ins and terrorist-like acts in the name of conservation do any good. Legal action, although not the most creative tool in the tool box, is the one that usually gets things done.

This got me thinking about counter culture and it's influence on the culture at large. Look at the alt culture obsession with the "Authentic," a reaction to mass marketing and lack of quality. Now we have in-house brewed beer and in-house roasted coffee beans served to you on rough solid wood tables in bare brick rooms. A restaurant cheese platter served on something other than a raw slab of wood or stone is highly suspect as to it's quality. I haven't cracked any new idea here but I am suggesting you might have more influence on the society as a whole by effecting society in your community. Even if you aren't political, your choices in life are, and being a creative person is a pretty big statement.

Object Oriented Ontology

Another book by Timothy Morton, Realist Magic, introduces some ideas that have a flavor of an almost alien intelligence, or at least a digital one. Object Oriented programming/scripting has a naming convention like: "TucsonMap.MapRenderer.MapPage" : "Inside the map page is the map renderer and we are focusing on the Tucson map in relation to those"; a way of dealing with hierarchies that lets you get as granular as you want. Now think of "GraniteShard.Cliff.CrystalMesa" and you can see the concept of how every object is defined by its' relation to other objects, but this is when things start to go down the rabbit hole.

Objects are elusive with self contained archeologies that will never be known. A 'pebble' was once a 'cliff' was once a 'volcano' was once a 'sea floor'. A bird might have picked up the pebble and dropped it from miles away. Eventually the pebble will become sand. If you exposed the pebble to radiation, to acids, intense cold, ate it and ran it through your digestive track, would you know it any better? This is the magickal aspect of reality, we know much less about it than it is. And yeah, ideas and concepts are objects too.

This is less about "How much of a table can I cut away until it isn't a table anymore?" than "Everything you can think of is completely unique and completely unknowable at the same time." Processes are more permanent than objects. Knowing the nature of nature lives more in the mystic realm.


Automatic writing is nothing new and many artists practice it today. Working with my own set of symbols in my artwork, I'm still playing with what they mean. I'm beginning to think they are in relation to natural forces and am slowly teasing out how that works.

Diane Slattery documents her journey into automatic writing, communicating with aliens and art while under the influence of hallucinogens. I love reading about other peoples' trips, and her story is pretty far out, but I'm more interested in the ideas that came out of her exploration. Life, with it's massive alphabet of DNA, is made up of language. Diane started seeing a set of symbols she named "Glide." When they are grouped together they become larger symbols of things. Sounds like a sentence or a paragraph? Her symbols (or one symbol that changes) are animated and change through time. They are not only covering everything she sees in her visions, they are everything. Anyway, I'm not done with this book but it's some nice mysterious candy to chew on.

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