Luciana Parisi on CCRU & entering the instrument

The CCRU was really a moment, a place where one wanted to think of machines and through the medium. So it was very much about understanding the form of the medium, its structure and cold constitution. It was very much about entering the instrument. And this is the area of CCRU I was close to because it was also a story of many polarized views and there was certainly no harmonic consensus: there was another area of discussion that was much closer to a left political critique, another one that was closer to the critique of capital in terms of the capacity to deterritorialize and to tap into desire, envisioning possibilities of human escapism. Ideas of “no future,” the idea of capitalist realism (as for instance in Mark Fisher) were then developed. This kind of haunting time, the question of time and tapping into the capitalist capacity of anticipating desires, of becoming an engine of potential realities was already producing a simulated future for you. The kind of realism that this is the everyday and there is no possibility of utopian discourse or utopian re-appropriation or political resistance to capital. A sort of inevitable pessimism that could become hyper-realized to open other dimensions of existence, dragging you out into a larger black hole. What you could do is expose the realism of capital and its intelligence in order to embrace the human condition as fundamentally alienated from the ontology of being, and from the narratives of political projects that would deny the original alienation of the human under the obliterating destruction of capital. On the other hand, there was obviously the question of technology and gender, technology and sex, the influential work of Sadie Plant, where technology was seen in the spirit of the cyborg, but where there was a fictional experimentation for going further than that – as it started looking at this kind of parallelism or equivalence between the role of techne and the role of gender. And re-appropriating this equivalence between matter and techne so as to expose the instrumentality of gender into a kind of political project, which is still an undergoing project that I am trying to develop.

Another area was the work of Kodwo Eshun and the UK version of afro-futurism, and how this component was worked out by Steve Goodman’s vision on sound as weapon, and of the war machine of frequencies, speeds, polyrhythm, originating through the alienating possibilities of machines – as described in The Last Angel of History, the film of John Akomfrah. In the film, this question of alienation has become a constructive moment for embracing the alienation of the natural so as to say that yes, we are originally instrumentalized, but we are here, constituted in the autopoietic circuitry of Western metaphysics, but as a political subjectivity of another kind, and we won not subtend to the ideological critique of race or gender – yet again confirming the metaphysical circuitry. These discussions were very important for us. At one end, there was the obtuse fixation with the machine’s logic, with some of us spending lots of time breaking down the language of computation and then dealing with top-down models of artificial intelligences. And this techno-philosophical approach was, however, an approach from within culture and the cultural politics of gender and technology, race and technology, and capital and extended proletarization. This was a very multidisciplinary investment that we all had; we did very different research, but we all shared this kind of re-articulation of technology to think politics in a non-ideological way. And obviously fiction – fiction, the fictive ideality of hyperstition – was a method for inventing a political philosophy of another kind, and perhaps its divulgation today is something we have considerable reservation about.

I mean, not everyone was involved, some were; I say we, but hyperstition was an invention of the CCRU in terms of “to make our own future.” Invent the future, name the future to come. It was a kind of super-constructivist intervention in time. Hyperstition as a mode of articulating futurity within the present but not futurity in terms of a future to come but the actuality of futurity. Extrapolating as much potentiality as possible from the present, constraining, conditioning techno-determinism, techno-fascism, techno-racism, all that, extrapolating these potentialities to reverse-engineer them. We talked about reverse engineering of hyperstition. To engineer the time, the future, the present by other means. And to also create models: we did this work together with this group 0rphan Drift, a three-day event called “SYZYGY CCG” where there was a cultural and aesthetic production through coding, diagram, news, rhythms and spoken words. We were trying to work out an aesthetic of techne and politicize it on a micropolitical level. This work was influential, but what happened with CCRU was these super intense three years and then there was dissipation towards the singular construction of the areas that we were involved within. And this dissipation of the group happened because we all finished our doctorates, people left the university, there were all sorts of possibilities at that point, but then the kind of inheritance of cyber-feminism, afro-futurism, speed and politics, tribal culture (as with Kode 9), in relation to the dynamics of warfare, was enmeshed in our works. I remember at the time the book of DeLanda War in the Age of Intelligent Machines was very influential for us, together with Spinoza, apart from Deleuze and Guattari, and other versions of Kant and Leibniz. We were re-reading things through hyperstition as a method. And so I did my work, as did Anna Greenspan who works at NYU in Shanghai and who wrote India and the IT Revolution: Networks of Global Culture and Shanghai Future: Modernity Remade, and later Shanghai Future: Modernity Remade, and another member, Suzanne Livingston, with whom we wrote “Amphibious Maiden” for the Abstract Culture pamphlets. So everyone did different things. but I guess the moment of the kind of inheritance we channeled in our work are examples of hyperstition and micropolitical interventions, so we thought about race, class, gender, which are reworked then on the level of techne, technology, means, instrumentality, use. My project is still there. I guess the fictive feminisms we explored are also a precursor of accelerationism. Of course accelerationism for us was influential through the argument of Deleuze and Guattari in Anti-Oedipus because for us there was a way of questioning the human condition and Western metaphysics. The project of accelerating the human condition was for us very much influenced by the writings of Samuel Delany, Octavia Butler, and cyberpunk in general, as the idea that the human being is an anarchical being, one that has to be deterritorialized and gradually de-stratified to become something else, to incorporate evolutionary mutation within cultural turns, and an epistemological understanding of what humanity means and can become. Here accelerating capital was a motor of deterritoriailzation from the State apparatus. To deterritorialize normativity, so that other forms can emerge and become indifferent to normativity as a promise for another kind of subjectivity, of cultural production, of aesthetic invention. But I guess the jump between the deterritorialization of norms and the fierce architecture of neoliberal, and now post-neoliberal, State has to be constantly re-articulated because the ultimate project of total destruction is also part of the Enlightenment project. This is what can be understood in the terms of the Dark Enlightenment, a work that for me is (despite not fully matching with the originator of this thought, Nick Land), a way of fictionalizing the hyper-state of hyper-capital, hyper-austerity, the hyper-sovereign model of power.

Do you believe it is fictionalized?

No, that is me. I do not take the full actualization of the Dark Enlightenment at face value. It is totally seized by its active fictionality. It is more a provocation of what destructive destruction has become in terms of the war of capital against the hyper-state. I remember there was a period when we were reading Deleuze and Guattari’s chapter “Apparatus of Capture” from A Thousand Plateaus and there was this idea, this evocation of a super-strata, of super-flux, of a maximum mode of rigidification of the State apparatus – working as a kind of computational strata whose binary codes turn all contingencies of capital into a machine of smooth operations, as a problem solved by artificial intelligences governing corporations as city state corporations, implying how the machine of the state is reborn within capital in terms of state corporations sitting on top and against liberal markets in everyday reality.  rest @

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