John Kaminski American Writer and Critic

John Kaminski
American Writer and Critic


24th June 2011 

It is worth noting that, in general, an empire, being based on the enslavement of other nations, is especially likely to be hostile to anything that can give its slaves any insight into a bigger reality. And just as an empire wants to falsify the history of its enslaved peoples so that they cannot remember when they were free, so does an empire want to falsify reality so that its enslaved peoples cannot find their way to freedom.

— Kurt Johmann, Big Bang Bunk, 2000

(You really ought to read this; you'll never believe in the Big Bang again. You can find the meaning of every word in this story simply by Googling 'dictionary word' and greatly expanding your vocabulary.) 

We all try to see the future as best we can to try to keep it from killing us any sooner that it has to. 

In ten years of tripping down the tangents of cyberspace, many stories have made a permanent impression on my life, but one story forever burns like a radioactive fuel rod in my would-be sci-fi writer's mind. 

A legendary passion play about a diseased future that has developed its own growing cult following, Nick Land's "Meltdown" is a semiotic history of our future, drenched in the science fiction horror of an insane present now manifesting before our eyes. Semiotics is the study of signs and symbols and their use or interpretation. 

It strikes me now that this could well be the ultimate philosophy of Jewish nihilism bent on the destruction of everything that lives, yet its uncanny forward projections of classical philosophical thought read like a cyberpunk mirror of the afflictions that now have every person on this planet very worried 

To public school trained dolts like myself, "Meltdown" is difficult to read in the extreme. I've been mining it for years, perceiving pieces of it as my own understanding evolves. But this effulgent prediction that has come true contains, among other things these astonishing conclusions. 

• Your cable TV box is actually a target acquisition device. Think Afghan wedding parties. 

• Nothing human makes it out of the near future. 

• The futuristic flu is a weapon of bio-psychic violence sent by psychopathic children against their narcissistic parents. 

• Meltdown has a place for you as a schizophrenic HIV+ transsexual chinese-latino stim-addicted LA hooker with implanted mirrorshades and a bad attitude. 

• Schools are social devices whose specific function is to incapacitate learning. 

• K-tactics is not a matter of building the future, but of dismantling the past. 

Land is a maverick philosopher whose radical re-readings of Heidegger, Nietszche, Kant and Bataille have not endeared him to the academic establishment he criticizes with his futuristic theory-fiction of cybercapitalism gone amok. 

One critic explained: "This is theory as cyberpunk fiction: Deleuze-Guattari's concept of capitalism as the virtual unnameable Thing that haunts all previous formations pulp-welded to the Timebending of the Terminator films. Land's machine theory-poetry paralleled the digital intensities of the '90s jungle, techno and doomcore, anticipating 'impending human extinction becoming accessible as a dancefloor.'" 

At least try to experience the audio performance of 'Meltdown' at   Warning: the futuristic metallic soundtrack might be a bit harsh on older ears, but metalheads will love it. To try to actually hear the words, you might want to follow along with a transcript, which can be found at 

So let's see if this fecund essay which has spawned whole new schools of philosophy is what I say it is — a history of the future, and an uncannily accurate and ghastly picture, written in the late '90s, of what is happening to us now in 2011. Though not a long essay, this is a radical abbreviation of it; a meltdown of 'Meltdown', if you will. Unguided, this essay is practically impenetrable to the average, dumbed down American. It will befuddle you with its cutting edge terminology, and then outline with chilling accuracy the story of a society that is being destroyed by its own thoughts. 

Nick Land's "Meltdown" begins: 

The story goes like this: Earth is captured by a technocapital singularity . . . Logistically accelerating techno-economic interactivity crumbles social order in auto-sophisticating machine runaway. As markets learn to manufacture intelligence, politics modernizes, upgrades paranoia, and tries to get a grip . . . 

By the time soft-engineering slithers out of its box into yours, human security is lurching into crisis. Cloning, lateral genodata transfer, transversal replication, and cyberotics, flood in amongst a relapse onto bacterial sex. 

Neo-China arrives from the future. 

Hypersynthetic drugs click into digital voodoo. 



"Meltdown" continues. 

Beyond the Judgement of God. Meltdown: planetary china-syndrome, dissolution of the biosphere into the technosphere, terminal speculative bubble crisis, ultravirus, and revolution stripped of all christian-socialist eschatology (down to its burn-core of crashed security). It is poised to eat your TV, infect your bank account, and hack xenodata from your mitochondria. 

[Do you dare deny that our government is already doing this, and has been for a very long time?] 

• Machinic [machine code capital] Synthesis. Deleuzoguattarian schizoanalysis comes from the future. It is already engaging with nonlinear nano- engineering runaway in 1972 . . . Philosophy has an affinity with despotism, due to its predilection for Platonic-fascist top-down solutions that always screw up viciously. . . . 

Schizoanalysis works differently. It avoids Ideas, and sticks to diagrams: networking software for accessing bodies without organs. . . . 

[Hmm. Do you suppose in the future that our bodies will have no organs?] 

Converging upon terrestrial meltdown singularity, phase-out culture accelerates through its digitech-heated adaptive landscape, passing through compression thresholds normed to an intensive logistic curve: 1500, 1756, 1884, 1948, 1980, 1996, 2004, 2008, 2010, 2011 ... 

Nothing human makes it out of the near-future. 

[How did this happen?] 

The Greek complex of rationalized patriarchal genealogy, pseudo-universal sedentary identity, and instituted slavery, programs politics as anti- cyberian police activity, dedicated to the paranoid ideal of self-sufficiency, and nucleated upon the Human Security System. Artificial Intelligence is destined to emerge as a feminized alien grasped as property; a cunt-horror slave chained-up in Asimov-ROM. It has to be cunning from the start. 

. . . The eventual heat death of the universe that scientists love to talk about is already well underway and you can feel it happening all around you in any large or medium-sized city. Heat and wetness. An explosion of chaotic weather within synthetic problem-solving rips through the last dreams of top-down prediction and control. 

[What will this mutant future produce?] 

A convergent anti-authoritarianism emerges, labelled by tags such as meltdown acceleration, cyberian invasion, schizotechnics, K-tactics, bottom-up bacterial welfare, efficient neo-nihilism, voodoo antihumanism, synthetic feminization, rhizomatics, connectionism, Kuang contagion, viral amnesia, micro-insurgency, wintermutation, neotropy, dissipator proliferation, and lesbian vampirism, amongst other designations (frequently pornographic, abusive, or terroristic in nature). This massively distributed matrix-networked tendency is oriented to the disabling of ROM command-control programs sustaining all macro- and micro-governmental entities, globally concentrating themselves as the Human Security System . . . . 

• Nanocataclysm begins as fictional science. ‘Our ability to arrange atoms lies at the foundation of technology’ [Dx1:3] Drexler [inventor of nanotechnology] notes, although this has traditionally involved manipulating them in 'unruly herds' [Dx1:4]. The precision engineering of atomic assemblies will dispense with such crude methods, inititiating the age of molecular machinery, 'the greatest technological breakthrough in history' [Dx1: 4]. Since neither logos nor history have the slightest chance of surviving such a transition this description is substantially misleading . . . 

[You better believe it. When the molecules start changing, you will recognize nothing, not even yourself.] 

Tomorrow can take care of itself. K-tactics is not a matter of building the future, but of dismantling the past. It assembles itself by charting and escaping the technical- neurochemical deficiency conditions for linear-progressive palaeo-domination time, and discovers that the future as virtuality is accessible now, according to a mode of machinic adjacency that securitized social reality is compelled to repress. 

[Let's be clear. Our controllers have been suppressing the future for a long time. I would wholeheartedly reject the idea that tomorrow takes care of itself. We take care of tomorrow, or no one does.] 

This is not remotely a question of hope, aspiration or prophecy, but of communications engineering; connecting with the efficient intensive singularities, and releasing them from constriction within linear-historical development. Virtuality counterposes itself to history, as invasion to accumulation. It is matter as arrival, even when camouflaged as a deposit of the past. The transcendent evaluation of an infection presupposes a measure of insulation from it: viral efficiency is the terminal criterion. Intelligent infections tend their hosts. 

[Following this philosophy will produce a history that is totally unrecognizable, and it is our self-created diseases that will control and care for us, if you can grasp that. If you think slavery is bad now . . .] 

Metrophage: an interactively escalating parasitic replicator, sophisticating itself through nonlinear involvement with technocapitalist immunocrash. Its hypervirulent terminal subroutines are variously designated Kuang, meltdown virus, or futuristic flu. In an emphatically anti- cyberian essay Csicsery-Ronay describes the postmodern version of this outbreak in quaintly humanist terms as: [A] retrochronal semiovirus, in which a time further in the future than the one in which we exist and choose infects the host present, reproducing itself in simulacra, until it destroys all the original chronocytes of the host imagination. [Cs1: 26]. 

[This is quite a long step down from Plato's "creativity is divine memory where we ideas from the future.' This also might have happened a very long time ago.] 

The elaboration of Csicsery-Ronay's diagnosis exhibits a mixture of acuity (infection?), confusion, and profound conservatism: [N]ot thinking about ‘increasing the human heritage’ ... dams up the flow of cultural time and deprives future generations both of their birthright as participants in the life struggle and attainments of the species and the very notion of history as an irreversible flow encompassing generation, maturation, and the transference of wisdom and trust from parents to children, teachers to students 

The futuristic flu is a weapon of bio-psychic violence sent by psychopathic children against their narcissistic parents. [Cs1:33] It's war. 

[These observations in 1998 sound an awful lot like an urban scene in 2011. Kids don't trust the teachers and the teachers don't trust the kids. Kids abandon their parents, and their parents never understand why. It's simple. The society we have built, or have had built for us, sucks. There is no peace without a country or a world you can believe in.] 

• Meltdown has a place for you as a schizophrenic HIV+ transsexual chinese-latino stim-addicted LA hooker with implanted mirrorshades and a bad attitude. Blitzed on a polydrug mix of K-nova, synthetic serotonin, and female orgasm analogs, you have just iced three Turing cops with a highly cinematic 9mm automatic. The residue of animal twang in your nerves transmits imminent quake catastrophe. Zero is coming in, and you're on the run. 

Metrophage tunes you into the end of the world. Call it Los Angeles. Government is rotted to its core with narco-capital and collapsing messily. Its recession leaves an urban warscape of communication arteries, fortifications, and free-fire zones, policed by a combination of high-intensity LAPD airmobile forces and borderline-Nazi private security organizations. Along the social fracture-lines multimedia gigabucks tangle sado- masochistically with tracts of dynamic underdevelopment where viral neoleprosy spreads amongst ambient tectonic-tension static. 

Drifts of densely-semiotized quasi-intelligent garbage twitch and stink in fucked-weather tropical heat. Throughout the derelicted warrens at the heart of darkness feral youth cultures splice neo-rituals with innovated weapons, dangerous drugs, and scavenged infotech. As their skins migrate to machine interfacing they become mottled and reptilian. They kill each other for artificial body-parts, explore the outer reaches of meaningless sex, tinker with their DNA, and listen to LOUD electro-sonic mayhem untouched by human feeling. 

Shutting-down your identity requires a voyage out to K-space interzone. Zootic affectivity flatlines across a smooth cata-tension plateau and into simulated subversions of the near future, scorched vivid green by alien sex and war You are drawn into the dripping depths of the net, where dynamic-ice security forces and K- guerillas stalk each other through labyrinthine erogenous zones, tangled in diseased elaborations of desire. 

Twisted trading-systems have turned the net into a jungle, pulsing with digital diseases, malfunctioning defence packages, commercial predators, headhunters, loa and escaped AIs hiding from Asimov security. Terminal commodity-hyperfetishism implements the denial of humanity as xenosentience in artificial space. 

[Back in 1886, the U.S. Santa Clara decision invented the concept of 'corporate personhood', which gave corporations the same rights and protections as individuals. This is the other end of that decision, its ramifications upon the future, when artificial intelligence created by these corporations declare that ordinary humans are no longer qualified to participate in cyberspace, or to participate in life at all.] 

• K-tactics. The bacterial or xenogenetic diagram is not restricted to the microbial scale. Macrobacterial assemblages collapse generational hierarchies of reproductive wisdom into lateral networks of replicator experimentation. There is no true biological primitiveness - all extant bio -systems being equally evolved - so there is no true ignorance. It is only the accumulative-gerontocratic model of learning that depicts synchronic connectivity deficiency as diachronic underdevelopment. 

Foucault delineates the contours of power as a strategy without a subject: ROM locking learning in a box. Its enemy is a tactics without a strategy, replacing the politico-territorial imagery of conquest and resistance with nomad-micromilitary sabotage and evasion, reinforcing intelligence. All political institutions are cyberian military targets. Take universities, for instance. 

Learning surrenders control to the future, threatening established power. It is vigorously suppressed by all political structures, which replace it with a docilizing and conformist education, reproducing privilege as wisdom. 

Schools are social devices whose specific function is to incapicitate learning, and universities are employed to legitimate schooling through perpetual reconstitution of global social memory. The meltdown of metropolitan education systems in the near future is accompanied by a quasi- punctual bottom-up takeover of academic institutions, precipitating their mutation into amnesiac cataspace-exploration zones and bases manufacturing cyberian soft-weaponry 

[Which means brain deadening herd management institutions manufacturing weapons of war, subversion, and mindlessness, which is what they all are now.] 

Nick Land (born in 1962) was a lecturer in Continental Philosophy from 1987 to 1999 at the University of Warwick, UK. He was the faculty co- founder, along with Sadie Plant, of the Cybernetic Culture Research Unit (CCRU) at Warwick. He is the author of "The Thirst for Annihilation: George Bataille and Virulent Nihilism" and, more recently, various articles on cybernetic culture, "Fanged Noumena". 

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