What is it that Mike Crumplar was writing about when he wrote about the last days of Millennial hipsterism in New York? The pieces were captivating; but what was it that was interesting about this loose community of failed artists and washed up socialites standing at the transfer station between Being and nothingness? Was it the perverse pleasure of getting to engage with fascist art while nodding one’s head? Or the pleasure of refutation — when he exposed their vacuity? Perhaps it was all that, and something else too: we witnessed their failed attempt at creating a subjectivity.
The gamble was this: that one could constitute themselves, against the cult of small differences of wokeness, as a substantial subject. What was assumed by Peter Vack’s transphobic movie, was that transness produces no substantial subject; that it is born precisely from a lack of substantiality. A transgressive art, an art that would position itself against this insubstantiality, could provide the mythopoetic ground from which a genuine subjectivity could arise. But it had to fail. First, the critique would always fall flat, for the inessentiality of the subject is the starting point of transness — no one can be trans and assume that gender is essential. Gender essentialism is the position of TERFs, not of trans people. Second, transness being inessentialist at its core, the movie’s transphobia could not constitute an essential subjectivity precisely because it recognized transness as arising from a lack of substance. But this insubstantiality is what the artist had to assume in themselves in order to denounce it in trans people.
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But to assume that a subject could be constituted as a transgression against inessentiality, one had to assume that essence can be produced. And yet essence is precisely what cannot be produced. In this, figures like Andrew Tate speak to a collapse of essence just like trans people do; for the manosphere, one is not born, but one has to become a man. There is an experience of conversion, in discovering a community, a book, an influencer, which makes one turn into a real man. But this behavior, like Tate’s theatrical gestures, reveals the same inessentiality of the subject as transness does. As such, what Crumplar made his readers witness, was the desperate attempt at producing an essential subjectivity, an attempt that could only fail.
But this movement was twofold. Crumplar’s Dimes Square pieces presented a bloated, hysterical subjectivity; a subjectivity seeking out negative transference in order to constitute itself, until it was made to founder into the position of the absolute non-subject, the pharmakos — “my own Dimes Square fascist humiliation ritual.” In this, Crumplar is a true Lacanian; the desire of the analyst is to obtain absolute difference. The textual economy of Crumplar’s writing relies on a hysterical subjectivity to effectuate the true purpose of analysis, this absolute difference which is the complete liquidation of identity. His reactionary subjects attempt to constitute a negative identity, against which the hysterical subject Crumps must constitute its own identity as the negation of the negation, an attempt that collapses in the complete non-identity and desubjectivation of the fascist humiliation ritual.
This then, is the true import of Crumplar’s writing: he reveals the death of the subject.
The vulgar and thoughtless piece that C**** Y***** wrote on the subject, is not worth mentioning, beyond the cathartic pleasure of abjection that he claims the assembly felt during this fascist humiliation ritual — this is not a pleasure proper to the subject, but to the abject.
But there was another response to Crumplar’s pieces, put out by a Substack author, Angelicism.
What ‘Crumplar’ really means is nothing but the profound need for a hate-fix powerful enough to take away all cultural sense of an actual end of the world. The more we feel that end, the more we will have to push it away in the form of extravagant gestures of misdiagnosis. Examine for example the idea that the main problem in culture right now is Peter Vack’s film rehearsal in July 2022 and not the 6th and final mass extinction event on a possibly-one-in-a-quintillion Planet Earth.
This, in fact, is false. Crumplar thinks annihilation at its most elementary level; the annihilation of the subject. But Angelicism, like his mentor Nick Land, could not know this — for they no longer think.
The refusal to think in and through annihilation, is the refusal to think.
It was one of Kant’s great discoveries, as Deleuze once noted, to have realized that reason possessed a conflict of interests. There was, on one side, the practical interest of reason, which asked for freedom, as a way to orient human action. Because freedom required that one’s act were not conditioned by natural necessity, it called for something unconditioned beyond nature — God and transcendence. On the other hand, there was the speculative interest of reason, which demanded thought to be unconditioned, and as such, it found nothing but necessity in nature — Spinoza. Kant’s genius was to ascribe transcendence to the demands of practical human existence, and immanence to a thought that was radically inhuman. That is, in the antinomies of pure reason, the antithesis belonged to something inhuman. The movement of Enlightenment critique, Kant discovered, was not human. This is because absolute immanence is nothing but the bestial power of capital.
It was Kant, not Nietzsche, who said it: transcendence is human, all too human.
What Nick Land always did, was think the antithesis of the antinomies of pure reason. However, as one might know, Land no longer does that; he now sides with the thesis, the demand for a transcendent identity, whether as race, nation or group, which would orient human existence. Nick Land, like Angelicism, is actualizing the antinomies of pure reason. This situation, Kant named it the euthanasia of pure reason. So why then did Land stop thinking the antithesis? It was the subject.
Read Land’s A Dirty Joke, which more or less closes his philosophical itinerary. The subject is in a state of annihilation. Land’s I took the name ‘Vauung’ and looks at a Land which is ‘the ruin’ or simply ‘it’. Vauung describes the ruin doing LSD with a woman, until “the ruin said: Let’s embrace death, the Dark Mother.” And “the ruin,” Vauung further adds, “had always abused women, in the Kantian sense. It used them as means to an end, and the end was ruin of the soul.” And this is the conclusion: “Somewhere along the line the ruin lost the moral strength for sexual abuse. To continue with that it would have to be a lesbian, at least.” Why did Land stop here? Because he had nearly accomplished the movement of Kantian critique, which forms the core of the Transcendental Deduction: the diremption of the subject. And in Land’s case, there was a becoming-woman involved. Land got scared — but he was nearly there.
Kant’s cogito operates by showing that the analytic of the cogito shows the cogito as analytical. The analytic of the cogito yields “I am thinking therefore I am,” from which Kant demonstrates that Descartes is really saying “I am therefore I am,” a proposition that is strictly analytical. And thus, the existential sense of the cogito does not belong to thinking. Thought is non-existential. Only “I am” as transcendental apperception is existential. And this transcendental apperception is simply “the consciousness of what one undergoes as they are affected by thought.” The subject is blown apart, torn between transcendental apperception and the thought that thinks; and here, occurs Kant’s anguished cry: “what is that thing that thinks in me?” It is this moment, and never self-consciousness, which forms the reflexive faculty that writes the Critique. The subject arises not as self-consciousness, but as the reflexive movement of transcendental apperception towards an alien thought; Kant has already dismembered the subject, and the wild power of his writing arises precisely from this movement.
This is what Land has abandoned to waste away in the euthanasia of pure reason. And it is the same surrender that Angelicism asks of Crumplar today. But the carefully constructed non-subject ‘Crumps’ is what really allows Crumplar to think annihilation in a way that Angelicism knows nothing of, and that Land has only reached to better back away from it.
One thinks in annihilation like Plato thought in Athens. Here, thought does not serve to produce identities, paltry ethics, novelty ontologies, or ecological solutions. It creates a deeper problem, by radicalizing the antithesis.
One cannot possibly derive the knowledge of what they can do from what is being done now. Material conditions and existence cannot provide anyone with any knowledge of what a body can do — the utopian imperative is known a priori. It is precisely because one cannot arrive at any knowledge of what they can do from lawful actuality that utopia must be thought—as it was for Plato’s Republic—without legal conditions. One cannot derive principles from existence, nor can they create principles absolutely. Because any principle derived from existence would not be absolute, and because any rational principle would find its condition in reason, one can only approach the realm of human freedom, what a body can do, through a radically anarchic thought.
As such, any thought on the political must proceed from absolute idealism — henology. There can be no ethical, moral, legal, utilitarian or eudaemonic considerations involved in such a thought. It must proceed from absolute transcendence to absolute immanence without the din and chatter of ethics, law or utility.
If existence falls short of this thought, it is never condemned: for it has already condemned itself. The subject knows itself full well to live in a state of shortcoming, failure and impurity — it is an immediate knowledge that existence is not innocent.
Thought thinks, and one gives themselves away to thought, knowing that they sustain it as an alien child that has, as Schelling wrote, “the power to kill its parent.”
As such, the danger of nihilism is internal to nihilism as thoughtlessness; it is because nihilism does not go beyond nihilism, that the thought of the nothing is precisely nothing. Nihilism is only dangerous because it does not go far enough. One either thinks annihilation or thinks nothing.
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My favourite of your substack posts. You're on the right track.
Mid substack compared to your other essays,(sad face).