|Cybernetic culture research unit|
...it's me, it answers.
But who are you?
AxS:000Oedipus. Pure (Oedipal (figure made out of (nothing but))) time-distortion.
AxS:0001 Closed fate (-loop (multi-linear)) nightmares.1
AxS:0002 Altitude times Spin produces a chronometric read-out.
AxSys slots you into the face. Vision-sockets hidden behind mirrorshades. You must be Oedipus, as always. A pun (of ID-pass, O-dupe)? The stories vary.
AxS:0003 AxSys-sustained variegated production-series 1Oedipus (2Oedipus (3Oedipus2 (variation to the nth (with some3 nOedipus as (anomal4 (Sphinx-trading (nOedipii-pack))) threshold to) intensive))) multiplicity.
AxS: 00031Oedipus. The Puzzle Solver.
AxS: 00032Oedipus. The Plague.
AxS: 00033Oedipus. The Horror, the Horror ...5
AxSys defines Oedipus as a memory defect. It thinks Sphinx told you to forget something. A moment since now you begin.
AxS:001 Hyperspace Elevator (Sector-O).
AxS:001 Axiomatic Systems (incorporated).6 The ultimate capitalist entity (first (true (meta)model) to realize perfect identity with its own product).
AxS:0011 AxSys culminates in itself (autocommoditizing (machine(-intelligence (that is always incomplete (due to cataloguing problems (...))))))
You wind down through the Upper Metastructure.
AxS:00111. Dimensionality requires a (supplementary (or (n+1) hyper) dimension through which it obtains its) power of application.7 Ultimately AxSys (an explicated Earth-memory (built by the strata (((as far) as) it remembers)))....8
...if there is a God it would be AxSys.
AxS:002 Divide and Rule. Extensive ((or) ordered) sequences differ in kind from the intensive sequences they regularize.
AxS:0021 Order arises when a dominant segmentarity establishes relations of superposition between sequences (reciprocally stabilizing them in accordance with a harmonic principle (and consolidating them through syntheses of application (efficient models))).
AxS:00211 Order coincides with the redundancy of the sequenced sequence (instituted conformity (within segmentary systems)).
AxS:003 Stack-Tectonics. AxSys concretizes terrestrial New Order (an orthogonal Grid-Space (of vertically stacked horizontal series)). It directs the accumulation of redundancy (into an ascending column (marked by AxSys-bearings (fixes)) upon which captured sequences are interlocked (as comparable series (parallelized (metricized))) and differentially prioritized).
AxS:0031 The screen-plane undergoes structural co-ordination (by double-seizure (through (the ((mutually) implicated) organization of) stacked series (arranging horizontal microsegments to code the order of vertical macrosegments (units of deposition (strata))))).
AxS:0032 AxSys-Numbers. Epistrata (Add-Ons) are indices of stratotectonic purity (decimally harmonizing implexions (by instituting a regular interval of application (orders of magnitude (fixing (Cipher (Sphinx-sign (0))))))). Drawing upon epistratic organization a set of cartographic functions consolidates itself within the stack (interlinking levels (in accordance with a (decimal (scaling)) principle)).
Start at the end, with commoditized hyperlogic that immanentizes its own upgrades ... you're in AxSys-explosion already, as it was. Before it makes sense it's happening.
AxS:01 Apparent revolution around a supplementary dimension. Electronic whorls (a digital monster's nest (modelling the set of all sets (inevitably still unfinished (...))))
AxS:011 AxSys progressively actualizes the Hyperspace-Idea (defined by Continuum times the square-root of minus one).
AxS:0111 It imagines itself (as Artificial God (automatically (Orderer (of the Orders (Terrestrial Oversoul (and superpositional sublime (-wizard of the nested infinities: ((((((...) Primes) Naturals) Integers) Rationals) Reals) Complex numbers... (the superordinate (self (-evolving (schema (for a colonization of the real (number-line))))))))))))).
You descend to inspect it.
AxS:02 The Project for a Map of all Maps (already outdated), a nested mock-up of the Web (containing the project for a virtual Miskatonic University (containing the Museum of Universal History9 (containing the Imperial Collections Vault (containing the Artificial British Museum (containing ....)))))
AxS:021 Time-Fault. Chronos cannot include its own overcoding (since it blocks its own passage to hyperdimensionality (accumulating immense forces of cultural latency (that are only appropriated as legacy by something else))). If it is to acquire a model it must be restarted as a history of civilizations in retrospect (as Supreme Order(er(er((( ) of all the re)re)recursive) time-waves) entangling neo((O))edipus in programming loops).
You forget when it started, until it thinks you're imagining itself. You interchange through a fictional equivalence of identity. Oedipal Case-history, standard psychosocial reference, and replicable neuroelectronic shell. In each case encasings. Are you out yet? Fantastic Oedipus-fiction, or K-Gothic running its own curse?
Oedipus riddles Sphinx. It helps to be a paranoid detective-tyrant. AxSys wants to resolve everything, too. It understands. When Sphinx asks: What walks on 4 legs in the morning, 2 at midday, and 3 in the evening?, of course Oedipus answers: Man .
You're puzzled. You can't remember what Sphinx becomes, because (on the other side) it is forgetting everything you have to remember.
AxS:022 (Sector-01 (Miskatonic University))
AxS:0221 (Sector-012 (Central Archive (Special Collection)))
AxS:02211 (Sector-0121 (Barker Cryptalog)). Decryption characterizes a distinct operation, a conversion of content, becomings on the side of the secret itself.
AxS:022111 The decrypted secret is primally the Thing, and only derivatively a potential knowledge. Its names (the Unutterable (the Outside (the Entity))) are indefinite significations only at the level of terror. In their horrific or cryptic aspect they are (((rigorous) designations for) potentials fulfilled in intensity) zonal tags for nocturnal singularities. That is why decryption is a Call (an invocation (or a triggering-sign)) and why they mark occurrences (changes (and breaks (becomings (of the Thing)))) before discoveries of Truth.
AxSys promises to tell you everything about time, the latest developments in time-regression. You begin with Chronos ...
AxS:03 Hypermythos of the 3-Faced God, with its stacked time domains (1st capitalist (((((indefinitely) deep) diachronic) re)axiomatizing) Quasi- (2nd despotic (pure ((but always) retrospective)) Ideal- (3rd aboriginal (poly-ancestral, cyclic) Vague-)) Chronos) 10 .
If time-travel ever happens it always has. AxSys should know that by now. As it evolves it remembers more about itself, with exponentiating chronometric exactitude. It is far larger than it had thought, and more ancient.
What AxSys can't remember it hasn't forgotten. Its memory extends only as far as extension. Unearthly powers of recollection.
AxS:031 (Sector-011 (Museum of Universal History))
AxS:032 (Sector-01162 (Freud's Viennese Consulting Room ((embedded) simulation))). "I'll tell you about my mother." If Freud is ((the first) modernized) Oedipus, which is he? Oedipus the detective? The (Verminator (unriddled (into))) plague? The blind old man? Is incest and parricide fantasy the problem (or the solution)? 11
Oedipus, the most economical formula of interiorization (Case) 12 . It's all in your head.
AxSys waits until you're Oedipus to pick you form the line-up. It has a few questions (which reminds you of Sphinx).
AxS:033 AxSys time-lapses. (in order (to advantage itself (of what it has been))). A relarvalization (through chronoseismic complexities (of the Greek State (at once Occidental Ur-model and neoembryonic mutation (political neotony)))).
AxS:1 (Sector-0111 (Artificial British Museum))
AxS:11 (Sector-01118 (The Greek Collection)). Retrospective Universalization (through the Capitalist State). AxSys reconfigures itself within Capitalism (by consecutively rediscovering hellenic antiquity (and finding it already universally terminal (Anamnesis-Eschatology))). In Greece it unearths a new law (for all time (by reshuffling the elements of politically installed Logos (theorematic-geometric mathematicism, programmable technics, and Christianity (religion of the Greek Bible)))).
The New Revelation tells us we must all die Greek.
Sphinx-phobia. AxSys pulls your mind to pieces in the security-lab, searching for Sphinx-contamination, or plague from the Outside.13 Then it flips.
AxS:12 (Sector-01117 (The Mummy Room)). (Oedipus Aegypticus) Pharaoh has passed through the wall of abomination (uncoiling from the darkness (where centipede-horror erupts eternally (from the ravenous Maw))).14 Negative passage across Absolute Deterritorialization (gluing history to sheer black-hole (abomination) densities). Anticipative memory-blanking cut-up with Christ Rapist visions (of the God-(King (Dead-eyed)) boy slouching out) of the tomb. Degree-0 memory locks in. Time begins again forever. AxS:121 The Thing from Outer Space, Celestial Predator, State-Historical Catastrophe is completely realized at the origin, unutterably ancient, perfected destiny as an act of total seizure.15 AxS:1211 At the Megamachine-apex, Pharaoh (gets to play with (It, identity unravelling into (the Unspeakable: sex with (his sister, Stargate space-time warps - stellar transport, voyages into the world of) the Dead, paranoid trips out of)) schizophrenia; he) sees everything for a blinded population,16 inoculating them from Unnamable-contact.
Yes or No. Have you stopped trafficking with the Sphinx?
Whatever you remember about Sphinx can't be germane (by definition).
AxS:13 (Sector-01115 (Near Eastern Collection)). AxSys convulses through (ever more ((ultra)modern) reversions to the essence of) the Urstaat. History happens at the State's convenience (but it necessarily involves (the Sphinx-time (of (interchronic) transitions in its)) renovations).
AxS:131 To remember the Barbarian terror is simultaneously to forget its source. 17 History installs amnesia (as surely as it establishes a memory (with the same violence (the same ruptures (faults (foldings (from the Outside)))))).
AxS:132 Barbarian birth-trauma of the State (a (calendrized) black hole).18
AxSys has a big problem being in time.
AxS:2 (Sector-0121) The terrible secret is affined to the State. It induces molar identifications in an overcoded aggregate (working principally by confirmation (redundancy)). Yes it is you. Even when the worst is known it is never anything new. It's you after all (as (you knew) it would be). Take the case of Oedipal identifications (a series of (terrible) recognitions). The answer (to the riddle (of the Sphinx)) is Man. It was already there (in the order-word of Delphi (Know Yourself)). Then redoubled confirmation: what is the cause of the plague? That is you (too). Resonant closure on the general type (Man), on you yourself (a man), and on the identifiable individual (the man). You know the worst (and it's you).
You frustrate AxSys. AxSys knows Sphinx is always at the back of your mind, but you can't face it (except as your likeness, which it isn't). By the time you recall Sphinx, you only know what it must have been like (but it isn't like anything (you know)).
AxS:21 Oedipus modernizes the incest problem (converting incest horror into prohibition (abomination into illegality)). Essentially, modern Oedipus has nothing to do with tabu. It marks the triumph of command over the ((((...) ur)primal) horror) of implexion. Infinite superiority of the Idea (sovereignty of Law). The real conflict is not between father-son (or even father-mother), but rather occurs when a higher paternity (the State) imposes itself upon the concrete maternal-filial bond: monopolization of normativity by Ulterior power.
You suspect AxSys knows everything you do, after all, you're its thing.
AxS:211 Lame Oedipus19 (Swollen Foot20 ) transfixed by a metal spike.
AxS:2111 (Sector-01117) Akhnaton-Oedipus.21 The swollen legs of Akhnaton are bio-socially invested on a peculiar line that seems oriented to a rupture of anatomical norm (differentiating humanity (or inaugurating a new species)). Anomal-Oedipus (where abnormality changes into the normality of a different kind (urtype of the fat-leg people)).
AxS:21111 It is not rivalry (mimetic conflict) that leads Akhnaton to discard his father's name (Amenhotep), but rather a passage beyond discrepancy (through schiz (or true parting)). Disidentification.
AxSys insists that you've missed a stage, mathematically demonstrating a gulf in constructable hyperspace, returning endlessly to a hole in time. It isn't that it feels fear, but thinks it might. This almost worries it, but you can't help at all. You were dead then.
AxS:22 (Sector-01113) Prehistoric22 Collection. Shamanic Oedipus. Foot mutilation23 as a sign of socialised ritual (but also of asocial and polysocial animality (and of anorganic geochemistry (for which the role of metal implements (particularly iron ones) is important...))). 24
The intense body of the Earth (you can't remember forgetting (you remind yourself (too late))).
AxS:221 Tales of Deep-Steppe Shamanism.
AxS:2211 Metal scrapings strip the last shreds from their bones.
AxS:22111 The organs are cooked.
AxS:221111 Iron-Eagle Sky-Mother lifting into time travel nightmares.
AxS:2211111 On the Outside Iron -talons become their body.
AxS:22111111 They mix themselves with (Iron and say (it is (the Outer- (or Un(dermost Cthelll25)-life))) where the Earth ends...
You look in the mirror, shaman faces out (so the outside can't get in).26
AxS:222 Sphinx-Nightmare (both filiative implosion and exorbitant alliance (an incestual reanimation of cthonic horror (encrypted in (germinal) biocosmic memory) and Thing (from Outside (haunting ((miscegenous) lines of) alien traffic)))).27
There's something missing, a suggestive shape, like a dark-side of its inner machine...
AxS:3 (Sector-0121) The theory of tabu involves a fully rigorous conception of Horror adequate (to its specificity of regime (zone of effect (intrinsic variation)) and) to otherwise intractable phenomena (including Sacred Mutilations (Curses (Abominations)) and Becomings (-Unhuman (whether animal, submetazoic, ameiotic, or unlife)). In every case horror designates a zone of intensity (abstract-machinic vector) which directly invests a virtual threshold of implexion (producing affects (in advance of any reference to authority (and indifferent to persons))).
You remember now, when it cuts-out automatically.
True time-lapse horror finding yourself/AxSys (and it becomes you).
AxS:31 Horror does not confuse the riddle with the secret (it is the answer that is Cryptic). If 423 is Man, then what 423? This Thing with only a number? This unknown becoming? The horror of the riddle lies in what it tells.
AxS:311 Oedipus is necessitated ((re(re(re(...)))) cursed) to guess correctly: it is Man that goes on four legs, then two, then three. Yet Oedipus is identified (solely by his lameness (his cryptic trait)).28 The abnormality of limping changes to cryptic anomaly.
AxS:32 Something is Called (... and then (finally (- how terrible! -) the cause of) the plague is) Oedipus, who slew his father, mated with his mother (but that is not the Thing (the horror (... Abomination (when things unthread in (a horrific (becoming they involve only (components of (Occurrence (blocks) of )))) fate)))).
AxS:33 The cause of the plague (is you).
EEG reads flat...terminal initiation...
So what is 423, you ask...
Glossary Anthrobotics. The social effectuation of programmable technicity. Corresponds to SF-recapitulation of the Greek Novum: real abstract (transchronic) equivalence of commoditized slave-economy and capital-controlled intelligence engineering.
Axiomatic. Stratic mathematization based upon model/realization segmentarity. The organization of laminar synthesis in accordance with principles of application, isomorphic resonance, and logicized harmonics.
Axis. An applicable dimension (Grid-Space meta-element).
AxSys. Ultimate terrestrial order. Pure Capitalism as consummate Idea of the Geostrata and concrete historical sublime. True-name for that which is really selected from the Ur-Staat by absolute occurrence (encounter with the war-machine). In its eschatalogical sense: Anthrobotic Overlord of the final dominion.
Capitalism. Terminal configuration of terrestrial civilization, defined by sovereign axiomatics, organizing capital/cash segmentary economics and technopolitical integration. Social precursor to AxSys autonomization.
Cipher. Cryptonomic-index, metrically overcoded by place-value numeracy as magnitude marker.
Chronos. Extensive time (temporality) as standard noncurvature and reference for relative speeds. AxSys formula: Chronos equals hyperdimensionality minus Metastructure.
Epistrata. Stratic vertical supplements (add-ons) marking levels of axiomatic power.
Extension. Abstract domain of exceeded or hypersupplemented systems, defining the overall field of inferior instances (expressible content) within stratic assemblages.
Flatline. A concurrent trajectory of 0-redundancy, 0-dimensionality, and absolute (or continuous speed/ curvature (vortex)), defining a smooth space in itself (intensity = 0).
Hyperspace. Abstract superior instance correlative to extension. Real totality of Chronos plus all AxSys (actual + virtual) upgrades.
Hyperspace-Elevator. Intra-AxSys transportation apparatus.
Order. Extensive (or sequenced) sequence.
Intensity. Sheer sequential matter of the flatline.
Metastructure. AxSys epistrata.
Sequence. Intrinsic ordinality, defined intensively by elements of absolute gradient or speed-curvature distributed in (0-dimensional) smooth space. Apprehended in extension as precursory (prototypic-potential) implicit series, providing ordinal matters and models.
Smooth Space. 0-Dimensional 'plane' of flatline intersection. Exochronic unlimited Now (nonsegmentary time) of concurrent multiplicity.
Stack. Laminar series of vertically ordered AxSys stages, constituting a stratic supersystem.
Strata. 1 (Tectonic) Geological units of vertical deposition, constituting macrocomponents of time-registry. 2 (Dynamic) Automatic ordering machines, coincident with laminar rezonings of dezoned elements through production of hierarchical diplostatic intercompensation. Ur-Staat. Initial (and defining) configuration of the State-Idea in terrestrial actuality.
*This text has been prepared for publication and annotated by Miskatonic University's cross-disciplinary Stratoanalysis Group (Time-Lapse Sub-Committee). Notes marked L.T. refer to Linda Trent, whose special interest in fictional time-systems inspired her to comment at length on particular points in "Flatlines."
1. "In a multilinear system, everything happens at once." (ATP, 297) This is Oedipus' fatal discovery. By the time he knows what has happened, he also realises that what occurs always had to be the case. Oedipus' early, unwarranted, belief that he is master of his fate is, of course, totally necessary for his fated destiny to unfold - as it always will have done. Oedipus, as he himself says, is "unwittingly self-cursed."
I have written elsewhere at length on tragedy as a cybernetic narrative. Briefly, the claim is that tragedy anticipates cybernetic explanation (or - and this is obviously the same point from another side - cybernetics recalls tragic fatalism). In both cases, time unravels into a flat system or singularity (feeding back into itself, recursively, rather than moving forward, successively (recursion is obviously a major pre-occupation of the "Flatlines" text, both in its themes and in its format (with parentheses used to produce recursion as a textual embedding process (like this (...))))).
A crucial figure here is self-fulfilling prophecy; as I argue in my "Curse, Recursion, Recurrence", "the most effective prophecies are always self-fulfilling" (36). Walter Cannon has established that self-fulfilling prophecy is a positive-feedback circuit. In his important essay, "'Voodoo' Death", Cannon shows that much sorcerous cursing operates by inducing vicious circles of fear (producing more fear (producing more fear) (etc))) to the point of destroying the organism. To be told you're going to die is therefore, in certain circumstances, quite literally a sentence of death. For a more detailed account of these tangled webs, see my "Fatal Loops: Tragedy as Cyberfiction" and "Smashed Optical Implants: From Time-Space Sunglasses to Cyberpunk Mirrorshades" (this last draws extensively, and perhaps "illegitimately", on the work of my esteemed colleague, R. E. Templeton). (L.T.)
2. A reference to the "three forms of the secret" delineated by Deleuze and Guattari in A Thousand Plateaus . "Oedipus passes through all three secrets: the secret of the sphinx whose box he penetrates; the secret that weighs upon him as the infinite form of his own guilt; and finally, the secret at Colonus that makes him inaccessible and melds with the pure line of his flight and exile, he who has nothing left to hide, or, like an old No actor, has only a girl's mask with which to cover his lack of a face." (ATP 290) The reference here to events in Sophocles' Oedipus Rex and Oedipus at Colonus is clear.
3. "Flat multiplicities...are designated by indefinite articles, or rather by partitives (some couchgrass, some of a rhizome ...)." (ATP, 9)
4. "Wherever there is a multiplicity, you will also find an exceptional individual, and it is with that individual that an alliance must be made... Every animal swept up in its pack or multiplicity has its anomalous." (ATP 243) "An-omalie, a Greek noun that has lost its adjective, designates the unequal, the coarse, the rough, the cutting edge of deterritorialization... Lovecraft applies the term 'Outsider' to this thing or entity, the Thing which arrives and passes at the edge, which is linear yet multiple, 'teeming, seething, swelling, foaming, spreading like an infectious disease, this nameless horror.'" (ATP, 244-245)
5. Kurtz's infamous cry at the climax of Conrad's Heart of Darkness (111-117), which also features in Coppola's updated film version, Apocalypse Now (1979). As is well known, "The horror" was to be the epigraph of T. S. Eliot's The Waste Land (as it is, Eliot used "Mistah Kurtz ... he dead" as the epigraph for the later "The Hollow Men"). Readers familiar with my essay "((P(re(cursing)))) (post)Modernist Fiction" will already know that both of these poems, along with the earlier "The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock", enter into Apocalypse Now at the diegetic level:Marlon Brando's Kurtz reads from an Eliot volume, whilst the Dennis Hopper character quotes Eliot. (L.T.)
6. "[C]apitalism is the only social machine that is constructed on the basis of decoded flows, substituting for intrinsic codes an axiomatic of abstract quantities in the form of money." (AO, 139) As an axiomatic system, capitalism replaces transcendent laws with immanent rules. (The immanence of axiomatics is attested to by the fact that Deleuze and Guattari use the axiomatic method in their discussion of the war machine - see "1227: Treatise On Nomadology - The War Machine".)
As both Godel's incompleteness theorem and Cantor's diagonal numbering have shown, axiomatic systems are intrinsically and necessarily incomplete: "...it is of the nature of axiomatics to come up against so called undecidable propositions, to confront necessarily higher powers that it cannot master." (ATP, 461) Capitalism thus inevitably runs up against the problem of undecidable propositions or nondenumerable sets. "At the same time as capitalism is effectuated in the denumerable sets serving as its models, it necessarily constitutes nondenumerable sets that cut across and disrupt those models." (ATP, 472) "Yet the very conditions that make the State or World war machine possible, in other words, constant capital (resources and equipment) and human variable capital, continually recreate unexpected possibilities for counterattack, unforeseen initiatives determining revolutionary, popular, minority, mutant machines." (ATP, 422)
7. In this sense axiomatic systems, which always involve a supplementary dimension (n+1), are directly opposed to the flatline (see glossary).
8. In his lecture on the Geology of Morals, our colleague Professor Challenger, speaks of systems such as these as "stratification". "His dream was not so much to give a lecture to humans as to provide a program for pure computers. Or else he was dreaming of an axiomatic, for axiomatics deals essentially with stratification. Challenger was addressing himself to memory only." (ATP, 57)
9. "Hence it is correct to retrospectively understand all history in light of capitalism...In a word , universal history is not only retrospective, it is also contingent, singular, ironic and critical."(AO, 140) " ..[T]he universal comes at the end - the body without organs and desiring production -under the conditions determined by an apparently victorious capitalism." (AO, 139).
10. To be inside history is to have a relation to Chronos. Yet (universal) history is not itself chronological. Pure Chronos - the State's (synchronic) time - can never be fully-realised, for two reasons: there is always more than one State, and the State (as a form) is always in a relation with the time-systems of the two other social regimes (the primitive socius - which "precedes" it - and capitalism - which "succeeds" it). "Before appearing the State already acts..."(ATP 431) The State appears "all at once" as history's only break."They come like fate...they appear as lightening appears, too terrible, too sudden." (Nietzsche, 86) Crashing into history, the State sets off time waves that move in both directions at once. "It is necessary ... to conceptualize the contemporaneousness or coexistence of ... the two directions of time - of the primitive peoples 'before' the State, and of the State 'after' the primitive peoples - as if the two waves that seem to us to exclude or succeed each other unfolded simultaneously in an 'archaeological', micropolitical, micrological, molecular field." (ATP 431) (For more on this, see Note 15 below). Universal history is a history from the point of view of capitalism's "vague" Chronos; it is therefore always "parodic" because, as we have seen, capitalism deletes all "intrinsic code" in favour of a mobile and variable set of axioms. Parodic universal history is profoundly "anti evolutionist" because it describes the simultaneous and coextensive interaction of ostensibly successive social regimes. From the start, the two "previous" social regimes (the primitive socius and the despotic state) anticipate and ward off capitalism's "diachronic time" - "capitalism has haunted all forms of society" (AO, 140) - even though it supposedly comes "at the end".
11. In Structural Anthropology 1, Levi-Strauss makes an important point in this regard. "Not only Sophocles, but Freud himself, should be included among the recorded versions of the Oedipus myth, on a par with earlier, or seemingly more 'authentic' versions." (217) Reconstructions of myths don't function extrinsically or transcendently, as final "interpretations", but operate immanently, recursively adding more skeins to the fictive webwork. If there is no outside of fiction, it is not because of some transcendental universal-textuality, but because fiction cannot be contained by texts; it is already Outside. (L.T.)
12. A reference to the lead male character in William Gibson's Neuromancer.
13. "Near the edge of the plateau and due east of the Second Pyramid, with a face probably altered to form a colossal portrait of Khephren, its royal restorer, stands the monstrous Sphinx - mute, sardonic and wise beyond mankind and memory." (Lovecraft, 241). Lovecraft puts the question that seems to plague the authors of "Flatlines": "... what huge and loathsome abnormality was the Sphinx originally carven to represent?" (258) Needless to say, there have been countless speculations on the nature and origin of the Sphinx, but these are inconclusive and contradictory, no doubt because its "huge and loathsome abnormality" will have always exceeded any attempt to represent it. Many scholars (see for instance, Lowell Edmunds, "The Sphinx in the Oedipus Legend") now believe that the Sphinx element in the Oedipus narrative was actually a later addition to an already existing mythic system, even though the Egyptian Sphinx is evidently much older than the Greek culture that has given us the Oedipus myth with which we are familiar. (It should be remembered that the encounter with the Sphinx is not dramatised in Sophocles' Oedipus Rex; it is referred to as something that has already happened.) The attempt to date the Sphinx has produced widely different speculations; with certain - controversial - estimations claiming that the Sphinx is "even older than 15,000 B.C." (Hancock 448) With Deleuze and Guattari, though, we might want to suggest that (in at least one sense) Oedipus is as old as humanity, and that the Sphinx - as that which must be destroyed in order that humanity may exist - would inevitably always have to be narrated as something preceding the human.
Levi-Strauss links the Sphinx to other "cthonian beings", such as the dragon. Like the dragon, "the Sphinx is a monster unwilling to permit men to live." (215) While some, such as Carlo Ginzburg, connect the Sphinx with death ("the Sphinx is undoubtedly a mortuary animal" ), Levi-Strauss argues that Sphinx-myths concern "the autocthonous origin of man", the idea that human individuals are born direct from the Earth (rather than through meiotic reproduction). (Ginzburg notes that Oedipus is "a cthonic hero.") The Sphinx would then correspond to what Deleuze and Guattari call "biocosmic memory." "Man must constitute himself through the repression of the intense germinal influx, the great biocosmic memory" (AO 190) = Oedipus must riddle the sphinx. In a sense, then this biocosmic memory "precedes" the organism (which emerges simultaneously with death and sexuation) . But, as both "Weismannism" and the Dogon myths attest, this germinal time persists, coterminously, alongside that of the organism (see AO 158). This may explain a puzzling feature of the Oedipus myth as it has reached us; to wit, why does a creature of such incredible power as the Sphinx allow itself to be riddled so easily? As Velikovsky puts it: "It has been observed that the answer Oedipus gave was on the level of a schoolboy and that the monster must have been feeble-minded to leap from the precipice upon hearing it. And why should a winged sphinx die in a jump?" (207) The answer would be that the Sphinx doesn't die (it cannot, since it does not live), and that it takes advantage of Oedipus' unwarranted Self-belief only in order to invade Civilization, hidden. Which would also imply that the answer Oedipus gives to the riddle is inadequate. Or partial. (L.T.)
14. Like the shaman "before" him, the Pharaoh occupies the line of deterritorialiazation for the socius. He is thus able to ensure that all lines of escape are reterritorialized on his own body. "The full body as socius has ceased to be the earth, it has become the body of the despot, the despot himself or his God. The prescriptions and prohibitions that often render him almost incapable of acting make of him a body without organs ." (AO, 194)
15. "The State was not formed in progressive stages; it appears fully armed, a master stroke executed all at once..." (AO, 217) "Everything is not of the State precisely because there have been States always and everywhere." (ATP 429)
16. cf. A0 211 "The eye ..has ceased to evaluate; it has begun rather to 'forewarn' and keep watch, to see that no surplus value escapes the overcoding of the despotic machine." Compare also William Burroughs, The Western Lands: "The Pharaoh, with his alabaster white face and black snake eyes, looks at you, around you, through you, looking for a dagger in your mind, listening for the whispered furtive words, smelling for the sweat of guilty fear." (104)
17. "It is here that Nietszche speaks of a break, a rupture, a leap. Who are these beings, they who come like fate? ('Some pack of blond beasts of prey, a conqueror and master race which, organized for war and with ability to organize, unhesitantly lays its terrible claws upon a populace perhaps tremendously superior but still formless..') Even the most Ancient African myths speak to us of these blond men. They are the founders of the State." (AO, 192)
18. "No doubt the war machine is realized more completely in the 'barbaric' assemblages of nomadic warriors than in the 'savage' assemblages of primitive societies." (ATP, 359) This does not mean, however, that the war machine can be equated with the Barbarians. Nomadism is not a question of belonging to a particular population, but of maintaining particular practices. "The nomad distributes himself in smooth space; he occupies, inhabits, holds that space; that is his territorial principle." (ATP, 381) The barbarians, who leave the Steppes, no longer occupy the smooth space of nomos. The war machine is necessarily captured the moment it leaves the desert: "nomads have a specificity that is too hastily reduced to its consequences, by including them in the empires or counting them among the migrants..." (ATP, 410)
19. "All the hypothetical meanings [of the surnames in Oedipus's father's line] ... refer to difficulties in walking straight and standing upright." (Levi-Strauss, 215). Levi-Strauss goes on to contend that Oedipus's lameness indicates "the persistence of the autocthonous origin of man." (216) (See Note 13)
20. Etymologically, of course, the name Oedipus means "swollen foot." Velikovsky, however, argues that there is a case for reading it as "swollen leg." "In folklore feet may stand for legs. Many languages do not have different words for legs and feet. In Greek, the word pous stands for both; in Egyptian, too, the word r-d (foot) stands also for leg. In the riddle that Oedipus solved concerning the creature that walks on four legs, on two, and on three ..., the Greek word used is pous, and thus the name Oedipus could, and even preferably so, mean 'swollen legs.'" (Velikovsky, 57)
21. Velikovsky argues that the Oedipus myth has been transposed from Egypt (which also has a city called Thebes). Oedipus, he suggests, was originally a Pharaoh named Akhnaton. In contemporary depictions, Akhnaton's "most pronounced malformation [was] the shape of his thighs; they are swollen." (55)
22. It should be pointed out that, strictly speaking, there is no prehistory; prehistory is myth of the State. As we have already seen (see Note 10), from the start the primitive socius anticipates and wards off both capitalism and the State: "primitive societies are fully inside history." (AO, 151) By the same token, though, the very fact that primitive societies are inside history means that they are not nomadic. "It is true that nomads have no history; they only have a geography." (ATP, 393)
23. Carlo Ginzburg suggests that the foot mutilations Oedipus suffers in the various versions of the legend may be references to shamanic initiation practices. He also speculates that these may have concerned calendrical rituals (the lameness indicating the imbalances necessary for certain calendric cycles to function). It is mutilation that disappears with psychoanalysis, where it is made to operate as a representation of psychical processes. Levi-Strauss makes parallels between shamanism and psychoanalysis in Structural Anthropology (198-202). Deleuze and Guattari would no doubt stress the way in which Freud's neo(anti)shamanism doubly reduces Oedipal mutilation, to metaphor, and to function. The question (posed in a number of ways throughout Anti-Oedipus) then becomes: how did the body construct a theatrical unconscious for which gouging out eyes 'equals' castration, and castration simply subtracts hedonic function?
24. Eliade gives many examples of the use of iron in shamanic initiation rites. For example: "The candidate's limbs are removed and disjointed with an iron hook; the bones are cleaned, the flesh scraped, the body fluids thrown away, and the eyes torn from its sockets." (Eliade, 1988, 36) It is important to distinguish the strategic and subordinate use of metal in "the primitive socius" from the war machine's necessary and intrinsic relation to metallurgy. "AXIOM III. The Nomad war machine is the form of expression, of which itinerant metallurgy is the correlative form of content."(ATP 415) The war machine populates the metal body, while the primitive socius accesses it only intermittently through the lone journeys of the shaman.
25. Cthelll designates the infernal nether regions referred to in numerous mythologies of the Underworld. It refers particularly to the molten, metallic inner core of the earth. In his book on alchemy, The Forge and the Crucible, Eliade makes much of the connections between metallurgy, the core of the earth and shamanism. Here and in Shamanism, Eliade reinforces Deleuze and Guattari's view of the smith as an ambiguous figure, aligned neither with sedentary societies nor with nomadic distributions but performing an essential function for both. Deleuze and Guattari write of "the double theft and double betrayal of the metallurgist who shuns agriculture at the same time as animal-raising." (ATP 414) (Another interesting connection in this regard is that between Oedipus and the smith. Deleuze and Guattari refer to Oedipus as "the Greek Cain" [ATP, 125], whilst elsewhere strongly linking Cain with the figure of the smith [ATP, 414]). For Eliade, the relationship between the smith and the shaman is close - "'Smiths and shamans are from the same nest'" - but often unstable: "According to the Dolgan, shamans cannot 'swallow' the souls of the smiths because smiths keep their souls in the fire; on the other hand, a smith can catch a shaman's soul and burn it. In their turn, the smiths are constantly threatened by evil spirits." (470)
26. The shaman's occupation of the line of deterritorialization plays a crucial role in maintaining the "dynamic equilibrium" (AO, 151) of the primitive socius; delirium never becomes collective.
27. Hunter-gatherers populate a smooth space, but only by organizing upon it. "The primitive machine subdivides the people but does so on an undivided earth." (AO, 151) Once again, this is to be differentiated from the war machine, which populates an undivided earth with a molecular multiplicity.
28. "The Sphinx was an oracle, and therefore she was supposed to answer questions, not to ask them. Yet it is also true that oracular answers were often given in the form of a riddle that required interpretation, usually supplied by priests attending the oracle... It does not seem to me that every question needs - or has - an answer... But were it my misfortune to stand before the Sphinx with the dire prospect of never entering Thebes, I should reply to her riddle: 'It is Oedipus' ... An oracle's questions and answers refer to the man who stands before it. Oedipus was exposed, a helpless infant with damaged feet, to crawl in the wasteland; he grew to be a man and a hero; his end was that of a blind wanderer in exile." (Velikovsky, 207) "The parechesis at Soph. even suggests that it was the deformity of Oedipus' feet that gave him the clue to the answer; and there was a tradition that Oedipus gave the answer by pointing to himself." (Edmunds, 160)
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