much more than the MAP, “Escape Velocities” is a neat summary of left-accelerationism in all its strands. in one respect especially, it shows everything: it’s got so much going for it, but then it drops the ball out of fear of sinning.
a few examples while you drift through the text:
- you start recognizing genealogy, and the drop it after 3 paragraphs. fear? it certainly will drive you down weird routes.
- it’s a mistake to recognize Land’s position (and, to a certain extent, even D+G’s) as “the worse the better”. it’s precisely the escalation of the process (capitalism) that is sought after. “better” and “worse” are already transcendent to it. why criticize something in these terms?
- i’ll save the usual request for a specification of what “neoliberal order” can mean besides “the Cathedral”. but it sounds an awful lot like “the Devil”.
- Nick Land, a heretic. could this indictment be made by anyone but a priest?
- “today the best we can hope for is marginally improved consumer gadgetry”. what were you expecting, Eden?
- it’s notable, in fact, that Williams’ diagnostic is precisely the same as that of NRx: decay, deceleration, stagnation. it even has the same structure of the decelerator: the neoliberal Cathedral. why disagree on the solution? the Theonomist at least has a proper excuse: usury is against the law of God.
- “This process leaves Land’s theory unmoored and incapable of justifying itself”. why does it have to justify itself (to priests)? why survival isn’t enough?
- on Negarestani’s use of Longo’s critique: the world can’t be machinic, because that would mean we can’t know it (because our computers don’t have a very good resolution for such measurements). what matters is how the world can be for us?
- when talking about speed and acceleration, does Williams want to preserve the physical analogy that was originally present? because there’s absolutely no sense putting speed and acceleration as distinct or opposed, if he does. speed is the first derivative of space in relation to time. acceleration is the second (i.e., is the first derivative of speed in relation to time). acceleration is the variation of speed. how the hell “acceleration > speed” could make any sense? or, what the hell does “acceleration” have to do with navigation? this is a question that itself never waver…
- onto more substantial diagnostics: where are your values coming from? because “accumulation-for-accumulation” and self-perpetuation are things immanent to the primary process. from God?
- and ain’t they themselves being played by something? it becomes obvious at a point: the priestly endeavor of “freedom by means of rules”, based on a rational, enlightened order that enables us to runaway from drive, from the animal unconscious, apparently comes out of nowhere. the rational thinkers are to be sanitized, non-sensual beings, completely oblivious to the sublimated hierarchies of sexualized politics. priests can’t have sex, and Kant knew it. “morality is only good when it hurts”.
to get to the real meat, though, Williams names, by the end of the piece, two main strands within l/acc:
1) the epistemic accelerationism of Negarestani and Brassier.
it could go so far, when it recognizes that there’s “a direct identification of the processes of scientific discovery with nihilism”. how far is this from the asymptote that Metcalf already had in Neo-Futurism:
the operational political, economic, and sociological codes of universalized humanity contract – to the point where, condemned to endlessly circulate in an interminable statistical survey, they finally collapse into a black hole where meaningless signs reduplicate themselves. This is the secondary process. The humanities in flames.
yet, both Brassier and Negarestani refrain from such identified endgame, and try to rehabilitated Reason (God?) and flee from the nihilism entailed by the very overflow of data now made available. isn’t that just fear?
2) the political accelerationism of his and Srnicek’s, which identifies (aesthetically, at least) with metis, the cunning intelligence of the trickster and the bricoleur, and talks about dealing with contingency. but in the same breath it refrains from creative destruction – something that is pretty obvious in political horizons nowadays – and approaches “repurposing”. it doesn’t even want to destroy capitalism, or compete seriously with it. it doesn’t want war, it wants capital to stand still and be peacefully sucked.
maybe this is the most finished expression of the fundamental fear within l/acc’s heart: the fear of war. it wants to be Prometheus without actually fighting the gods, and, in fact, while it sides with the priestly caste in affirming the holiness of our Lord and Savior, Reason. Williams knows, deep down, that any call to war is already giving up the possibility of a universal “we” – and thus of anything nearly “Left”.
competition is a sin, reserved for heretics. and yet, the l/acc’s position won’t remain unchallenged, from every side. if they don’t step up to war – if their desire to self-perpetuation doesn’t strengthen – they are bound to disappear.