This is a text I’ve been working on, or rather keeping in the back of my mind, for quite a while, and now it’s finished and sent to Fiberculture Journal. The early beta was presented at a conference in Istanbul in 2011, and my thinking on sociable objects has evolved quite a bit since then. The key shift in my thinking was facilitated by a series of chance encounters – discovering object oriented ontology through Ian Bogost’s Alien Phenomenology, finding the notion of affective resonance in Jane Bennett’s Vibrant Matter, and rediscovering the heteroclite in Lorraine Daston’s awesome Things That Talk.
A passage from Philip K. Dick’s “The Android and the Human”, written in 1972, in which he is prophesying the appearance of the hacker subculture. This was at a time before personal computers, when phone-phreaking was only getting started:
If, as it seems, we are in the process of becoming a totalitarian society in which the state apparatus is all-powerful, the ethics most important for the survival of the true, human individual would be: cheat, lie, evade, fake it, be elsewhere, forge documents, build improved electronic gadgets in your garage that’ll outwit the gadgets used by the authorities. If the television screen is going to watch you, rewire it late at night when you’re permitted to turn it off…
Reading Reza Negarestani’s Cyclonopedia: complicity with anonymous materials – a singularly unique book way beyond any formulaic description. In the simplest of summations, it is a book about oil (naphta) as a living entity which is the secret daemonic ‘angel’ of the Middle East. Here is a tiny fragment from the section on Paleopetrology [p.17]:
Petroleum’s hadean formation developed a satanic sentience …. (envenomed) by the totalitarian logic of the tetragrammaton, yet chemically and morphologically depraving and traumatizing Divine logic, petroleum’s autonomous line of emergence is twisted beyond recognition.
To think about it, describing this work as a book is to somehow diminish the effect; rather, it is a codex of mythological proportions; a tractatus of speculative theology invoking petroleum science, the archaeology of ancient Persia and Mesopotamia, unnameable inorganic daemons, the ‘secret assassins sect known as Delta Force’, Deleuzean war machines, ancient artifacts, numerological analysis of the ‘Gog-Magog Axis’, and more, mind-bogglingly more.