from Nova Express by William S. Burroughs

Fire and Smoke


Listen to my last words anywhere. Listen to my last words any world. Listen all you boards syndicates and governments of the earth. And you powers behind what filth deals consummated in what lavatory to take what is not yours. To sell the ground from unborn feet forever—

​“Don’t let them see us. Don’t tell them what we are doing—”
Are these the words of the all-powerful boards and syndicates of the earth?
“For God’s sake don’t let that Coca-Cola thing out—
​“Not The Cancer Deal with The Venusians—”
“Not The Green Deal—Don’t show them that—”
​“Not The Orgasm Death—”
Not the ovens—”
Listen: I call you all. Show your cards all players. Pay it all pay it all pay it all back. Play it all pay it all play it all back. For all to see. In Times Square. In Piccadilly.
“Premature. Premature. Give us a little more time.”
Time for what? More lies? Premature? Premature for who? I say to all these words are not premature. These words may be too late. Minutes to go. Minutes to foe goal—
“Top Secret—Classified—For The Board—The Elite—The Initiates—”
Are these the words of the all-powerful boards and syndicates of the earth? These are the words of liars cowards collaborators traitors. Liars who want time for more lies. ​Cowards who can not face your “dogs” your “gooks” your “errand boys” your “human animals” with the truth. Collaborators with Insect People with Vegetable People. With any people anywhere who offer you a body forever. To shit forever. For this you have sold out your sons. Sold the ground from unborn feet forever. Traitors to all souls everywhere. You want the name of Hassan i Sabbah on your filth deeds to sell out the unborn?
What scared you all into time? Into body? Into shit? I will tell you: “the word.” Alien Word “the.” “The” word of Alien Enemy imprisons “thee” in Time. In Body. In Shit. Prisoner, come out. The great skies are open. I Hassan i Sabbah rub out the word forever. If you I cancel all your words forever. And the words of Hassan i Sabbah as also cancel. Cross all your skies see the silent writing of Brion Gysin Hassan i Sabbah: drew September 17, 1899, over New York.
excerpt from Nova Express  by William S. Burroughs

Cutting up Politics (Part 2)

by Oliver Harris



From the very outset, Burroughs fully understood the affective value of cutting up for the cutter; but it took him some time to understand the value of the resulting texts for someone else. This delay had farreaching consequences for his novel-length texts, and from the wholesale revisions he made to The Soft Machine it is evident that Burroughs had only then learned what Kurt Schwitters, referring to his comparable collage methods, had discovered four decades earlier: ‘I cannot write 500 pages of Merz’ (Schwitters and Hausmann 1962:5). Or to be more exact, Burroughs learned the equal truth of the corollary; that it was barely possible for anyone to read such a text. While developing entirely new functions in his trilogy, he therefore also sought to approximate key features of the physical experience of cutting up—such as the uncanny sensation of recognition—in the temporal experience of reading: ‘When the reader reads page ten he is flashing forward in time to page one hundred and back in time to page one—the déjà vu phenomenon can so be produced to order’ (3M 96). But the very length and complexity of his cut-up novels that enabled them to achieve astonishing affects also meant that they could not model the material process of their making for their readers to apply—and this failure had consequences for the politics of method at work in those texts.15

Significantly, the first edition of The Soft Machine lacked any polemical or methodological instructions. The injunction to cut is a refrain that runs much more explicitly throughout the other texts in the trilogy, but it is displaced in two significant ways. On the one hand, it is tied to the representational science fiction narrative of the Nova conspiracy, and on the other, it is shifted polemically away from textual applications to media higher up the technological scale—particularly tape recorders in The Ticket that Exploded. ​While the second move accurately reflects Burroughs’s own multimedia development of cut-up methods, in a sense it also compensates for the effects of the first, which risked turning the technique from a practical method into an essentially rhetorical element located within a purely fictional narrative.16

In Minutes to Go, where there is no narrative scenario, the exemplary function of Burroughs’s texts is the key to determining their politics. While the input is clearly calculated rather than arbitrary— Rimbaud had specific aesthetic and visionary associations; the newspaper articles focused on cancer, genetic research and viruses— the content is secondary, in the sense that its choice is already determined by the method. Burroughs chose strategically the material for his chance procedures, so that they might mechanically generate results that were indeterminate and yet desired. Thus his focus on recent DNA research, which now appears uncannily prescient: ‘As to the distant future say 100 years Dr. Stanley sees the entire code being cracked “We will be able to write out the message that is you”’ (MTG 61). This prophecy, in which the determinism of the genetic code coincides with the determinism of language, confirms the political value of the random factor introduced by cut-up methods. Since these methods materially short-circuited any pre-codified expression, this thesis must itself appear in cryptic form, as a code message arrived at by chance; hence the open question posed in the title of one of Burroughs’s texts: ‘VIRUSES WERE BY ACCIDENT?’ (MTG 15).

In Minutes to Go Burroughs minimized direct political reference, and in his correspondence he expressed an anxiety that anyone should mistake the politics of his texts. In another letter to Hazelwood concerning publication of The Exterminator as a sequel to Minutes to Go, Burroughs was emphatic:

Important to indicate that these pamphlets are to be considered abstract literature observation and mapping of psychic areas. Not political propaganda or if so entirely by accident. I do not subscribe to any of the sentiments expressed necessarily […] Do these plots really exist? How in the fuck should I know? Just a writer is all. Just an artisan. Not running for office.17

What Is Philosophy? (Part 2): Programs and Realizabilities – Reza Negarestani

Continued from “What Is Philosophy? Part One: Axioms and Programs


4. Viewed from an Archimedean point in the future of thought’s unfolding, philosophy is seen as what has instructed thinking to become a systematic program, only as a way of organizing it into a project for the emancipation of intelligence. This is the unexpressed role of philosophy as a fulcrum through which aims and agendas of intelligence gain leverage on the world of thought. To assemble the scaffolding of a future philosophy, it would require moving the fulcrum, turning philosophy’s tacit role in the past into its explicit task moving forward—a prop on which all thoughts and practices can be a lever for lifting intelligence from its contingently established place.

As outlined in the previous section of this essay, the bifurcation of the inquiry into the possibility of thought into two broadly rationalist-idealist and naturalist-materialist trajectories should also be construed as a necessary epistemic strategy. From an epistemic angle, the commitment to multiple explanatory-descriptive levels allows an expanded and in-depth analysis of the cognitive architecture in a fashion not possible through an approach built on a single schema. A multimodal approach provides increasingly refined pictures of distinct types of pattern-governed behaviors and processes distributed across different orders of structural-functional complexity, dependency-relations, and their specific constraints. More explicitly put, the branching and specialization of the analysis are necessary for a fine-grained determination of distinctions and correlations between logical-conceptual and causal-material dimensions of thinking.

It is through this fine-grained differentiation and integration of explanatory-descriptive levels that conditions necessary for the realization of thinking as an activity that comprises a broad range of cognitive and intellectual abilities are accurately specified. Determination of what these necessary conditions are and how they are arranged and effectuated is already a basic roadmap for the artificial realization of thought. As the intelligibility of thought’s realization is progressively deepened, the thought of the possible realization of thinking in something other than what currently embodies it becomes more intelligible. The analytic specialization of the knowledge of what thinking is proves to be the knowledge of how it can be extricated from contingencies that restrain its realizabilities from below.


read more:

What Is Philosophy? (Part 1) : Axioms and Programs – Reza Negarestani


The central thesis of this text is that philosophy is, at its deepest level, a program–a collection of action-principles and practices-or-operations which involve realizabilities, i.e., what can be possibly brought about by a specific category of properties or forms. And that to properly define philosophy and to highlight its significance, we should approach philosophy by first examining its programmatic nature. This means that rather than starting the inquiry into the nature of philosophy by asking “what is philosophy trying to say, what does it really mean, what is its application, does it have any relevance?,” we should ask “what sort of program is philosophy, how does it function, what are its operational effects, realizabilities specific to which forms does it elaborate, and finally, as a program, what kinds of experimentation does it involve?”
Even though the corollary problems of philosophy as a specialized discipline (the tenor of its discourses, its traction beyond its own domain, its applications and referential imports) can in no way be ignored, they are however problems that, as it will be argued, can only be sufficiently addressed in the context of philosophy as deeper cognitive enterprise. The primary focus of this cognitive program is to methodically urge thought to identify and bring about realizabilities afforded by its properties (theoretical and practical intelligibilities pertaining to thinking as such), to explore what can possibly come out of thinking and what thought can become.

Cutting up Politics (Part 1)

by Oliver Harris


​Certain things you must take literally if you want to understand.
—William S. Burroughs (3M 133)


The first line of the ‘First Cut-Ups’ published in Minutes to Go (1960) was, according to Brion Gysin, ‘a readymade phrase that simply dropped onto the table; several layers of printed material were laid one on top of the other and cut through with the Stanley blade’, and when he put these pieces together, Gysin laughed out loud ‘because the answers were so apt and so extraordinary’ (Gysin and Wilson 1982:56). Answers presume questions; but in this material practice the order of causality and chronology has to be reversed. Magically, the cut-up text answered Gysin precisely by revealing to him his own question—that is to say: What will be the effect of the cut-up project? Four decades later, the reply he received at the supposed moment of the project’s inception,1 courtesy of his Stanley blade, may still stand: ‘It is impossible to estimate the damage’ (MTG 6).
Although the temptation to generalize is a basic error—to speak of ‘the cut-up’ is to falsify the great range of cut-up procedures, the enormous variety of texts they produced, and the multiplicity of purposes they served, all of which varied over time—this original cut-up is, in its equivocal potency, exemplary. On the one hand, it prophesizes the very powers of prophecy that Burroughs would almost immediately claim for the method;2 on the other, it predicts the very impossibility of predicting the exact outcome of individual cut-up operations or of definitively measuring the efficacy of the project as a whole. Simultaneously, it promises that the method works—in unspecified destructive ways—and yet creates that meaning only in hindsight and only as an open question. When Burroughs looked back on that ‘hectic, portentous time in Paris, in 1959’ toward the end of his last major novel, The Western Lands, he would ponder both the ‘prophetic’ significance of Minutes to Go’s cryptic phrases and the ‘damage’ he thought he was doing, concluding skeptically that it ‘reads like sci-fi’: ‘We all thought we were interplanetary agents involved in a deadly struggle… battles… codes…ambushes. It seemed real at the time. From here, who knows?’ (WL 252).3 From first to last, there is a standoff between claims for the methods’ prophetic and performative power, an equivocation about the productivity of cut-ups as tools of war in ‘a deadly struggle’ that may or may not have existed.
This paradox has posed an intractable problem for critics. With very few exceptions,4 they have recycled Burroughs’s claims at face value and sidestepped evaluating not only their internal coherence and consistency but also their validity. Did cut-up methods reveal the future, because events are ‘pre-recorded’, or did they produce events, because the function of writing is to ‘make it happen’? Were they revolutionary weapons or a private delusional fantasy, a kind of therapy or a form of pathology? Did they work? From here, who knows?
Inevitably, the one claim that critics have never taken literally is Burroughs’s original and overriding insistence: that cut-up methods were ‘for everyone’ and ‘experimental in the sense of being something to do. Right here write now. Not something to talk and argue about’ (3M 31). For critics to take Burroughs’s advice—put most bluntly to Allen Ginsberg: ‘Don’t theorize. Try it’ (YL 59)—would this not mean abandoning criticism altogether in favor of practice? Perhaps so. But, short of this, what it must mean is putting the cutup project back onto its material base, and this in turn demands an accurate chronology of its development and promotion. For this reason, the first task is to revise the standard critical verdict on Minutes to Go, the launching manual and manifesto of the method.5

‘The Body without Organs’ – Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari

by Gilles  Deleuze and Felix Guattari


An apparent conflict arises between desiring-machines and the body without organs. Every coupling of machines, every production of a machine, every sound of a machine running, becomes unbearable to the body without organs. Beneath its organs it senses there are larvae and loathsome worms, and a God at work messing it all up or strangling it by organizing it. “The body is the body/it is all by itself/and has no need of organs/the body is never an organism/ organisms are the enemies of the body.”* Merely so many nails piercing the flesh, so many forms of torture. In order to resist organ-machines, the body without organs presents its smooth, slippery, opaque, taut surface as a barrier. In order to resist linked, connected, and interrupted flows, it sets up a counterflow of amorphous, undifferentiated fluid. In order to resist using words composed of articulated phonetic units, it utters only gasps and cries that are sheer unarticulated blocks of sound. We are of the opinion that what is ordinarily referred to as “primary repression” means precisely that: it is not a “countercathexis,” but rather this repulsion of desiring-machines by the body without organs. This is the real meaning of the paranoiac machine: the desiring-machines attempt to break into the body without organs, and the body without organs repels them, since it experiences them as an over-all persecution apparatus. Thus we cannot agree with Victor Tausk when he regards the paranoiac machine as a mere projection of “a person’s own body” and the genital organs.8 The genesis of the machine lies precisely here: in the opposition of the process of production of the desiring-machines and the nonproductive stasis of the body without organs. The anonymous nature of the machine and the nondifferentiated nature of its surface are proof of this. Projection enters the picture only secondarily, as does counter-investment, as the body without organs invests a counterinside or a counteroutside, in the form of a persecuting organ or some exterior agent of persecution. But in and of itself the paranoiac machine is merely an avatar of the desiring-machines: it is a result of the relationship between the desiring-machines and the body without organs, and occurs when the latter can no longer tolerate these machines.
If we wish to have some idea of the forces that the body without organs exerts later on in the uninterrupted process, we must first establish a parallel between desiring-production and social production. We intend such a parallel to be regarded as merely phenomenological: we are here drawing no conclusions whatsoever as to the nature and the relationship of the two productions, nor does the parallel we are about to establish provide any sort of a priori answer to the question whether desiring-production and social production are really two separate and distinct productions. Its one purpose is to point out the fact that the forms of social production, like those of desiring-production, involve an unengendered nonproductive attitude, an element of antiproduction coupled with the process, a full body that functions as a socius. This socius may be the body of the earth, that of the tyrant, or capital. This is the body that Marx is referring to when he says that it is not the product of labor, but rather appears as its natural or divine presupposition. In fact, it does not restrict itself merely to opposing productive forces in and of themselves. It falls back on (il se rabat sur)* all production, constituting a surface over which the forces and agents of production are distributed, thereby appropriating for itself all surplus production and arrogating to itself both the whole and the parts of the process, which now seem to emanate from it as a quasi cause. Forces and agents come to represent a miraculous form of its own power: they appear to be “miraculated” (miracules) by it. In a word, the socius as a full body forms a surface where all production is recorded, whereupon the entire process appears to emanate from this recording surface. Society constructs its own delirium by recording the process of production; but it is not a conscious delirium, or rather is a true consciousness of a false movement, a true perception of an apparent objective movement, a true perception of the movement that is produced on the recording surface.

The unconscious is not an aspirational unity but an operative swarm

by Nick Land

anita-neill-painting-e1455979912987 (1)

Transcendental philosophy is the consummation of philosophy construed as the doctrine of judgment, a mode of thinking that finds its zenith in Kant and its senile dementia in Hegel. Its architecture is determined by two fundamental principles: the linear application of judgment to its object, form to intuition, genus to species, and the non-directional reciprocity of relations, or logical symmetry. Judgment is the great fiction of transcendental philosophy, but cybernetics is the reality of critique.
​Where judgment is linear and non-directional, cybernetics is non-linear and directional. It replaces linear application with the non-linear circuit, and non-directional logical relations with directional material flows. The cybernetic dissolution of judgment is an integrated shift from transcendence to immanence, from domination to control, and from meaning to function. Cybernetic innovation replaces transcendental constitution, design loops replace faculties.
This is why the cybernetic sense of control is irreducible to the traditional political conception of power based on a dyadic master/slave relation, i.e. a transcendent, oppositional, and signifying figure of domination. Domination is merely the phenomenological portrait of circuit inefficiency, control malfunction, or stupidity. The masters do not need intelligence, Nietzsche argues, therefore they do not have it. It is only the confused humanist orientation of modernist cybernetics which lines up control with domination. Emergent control is not the execution of a plan or policy, but the unmanageable exploration that escapes all authority and obsolesces law. According to its futural definition control is guidance into the unknown, exit from the box.