In the first place, what is here signified by the trans- will have been that “accursed share” (Bataille) by which an economy of meaning or system of power redeems itself for itself by the appropriation of the very thing it prohibits or seeks to erase. As the sign of a redeemed “transcendence,” the trans- nevertheless retains a trace, the contradiction of a difference that infects & proliferates within the system that seeks to universalise itself by way of this prosthesis. Yet the future it programmes via such an evolutionary engineering is fantasmatic not only with respect to any naive conception of the self-supersessions of power (progressivism), but also of its subversion, & not merely because each retains the character of an indeterminacy. Both the universalising potential of the trans- & its abstract singularity as the prosthesis of a becoming-other, a becoming-the-future or a becoming-of/from-the-future, necessitate that its heterogeneous movement is not a matter of opposition (if not resistance) but of a radical ambivalence.
THE HYPNOTISM OF SELF-ADVERTISEMENT
How many immaculate false dichotomies pose as the labour of being versus the unwork of non-being, in order to accomplish their transcendence via the simultaneously affirmative & self-negating act of “evolution as pure consumption” (extinction is necessary, progress implies it)? The belief, in other words, that a mode of “authentic being” can reside only in the very transcendence of being? If anything, this should attest to the fact that “permanent negation” can indeed be institutionalised, while also (& without any apparent irony) demonstrating that there are no “negative forms.” And if all that this ideal signifier can do is turn about its own axis, it nonetheless does so with the verism of the improbable. Like the dream of an insoluble paradox that cannot resist the allure of totalisation, the form of this movement remains uniquely engendered (abstract universalism as transgenic). And if the one presupposes the very categories the other seeks to overcome or negate, it is because their symbiosis is itself – even in this “corrupted” form – a perpetual re(e)volution.
LOVE & BOREDOM
The appeal of a certain transcendentalism in political, bio-ethical & ecological discourse echoes an “apocalyptic tone” that has reduced critique to a mystification of “hope,” exposing the impotence of protest hand-in-hand with the normalisation of Corporate-State terror & the covert operations of reaction-inside-the-revolt. If the work of subversion is a labour of love in constant antagonism with the consumption of vicarious gratification, the apparent transformation of the one into the other has been the triumph of the Corporate-State Apparatus, wherein the logic of the trans- – as that which, by definition, is supposed to evade formalisation as a sub-ject of power – is represented by the very seduction of power itself. This seduction poses in the form of a rebus that interpolates itself wherever this dualism occurs: as the ideal objectification of a becoming-other (the tabula rasa of the transfuturist EXIT). If resistance is born of a movement in which “every signified is always already another signifier” – or as a poiesis of constitutive alienation – the seduction of power is always in the guise of a universal signifier of “emancipation from alienation.” Yet what is truly at stake is the alienation of power itself.
If it appears that two antagonistic tendencies present themselves here, this is not simply by way of resistance to a mode of thought that would propose to do away with the very concept of antagonism, if not to resolve the conditions in which antagonism may be said to be constituted, were such a thing possible. Between subversion & transcendence it isn’t simply that a kind of gyroscopic movement produces its own inertia: their displacements do not succumb to a dialectical calculus, but produce a vertigo of complexity. It is the function of subversion to maximise this complexity, while it is that of transcendence to delineate its singularity. Such delineation belies the fact that what here calls itself transcendence describes nothing more mysterious than the logic of an algorithmic discriminator – as the reduction to one. Yet the fictive character of this “one” is signified by the internal contradictions of its derivation, such that every “reduction” is elided in a radical ambivalence. This is nowhere more in evidence than in that thought that declares an “end to capitalism,” whose objectification it has fetishised to the point of installing it as the transcendental object par excellence – which is to say, the narcissistic object. This false object is the point of fixation of a trans- reduced to the vector of a child’s fort/da game (as infantile commodity-production/consumption) synchronised to the movement of a “capitalism” that is itself the very analogue of a difference-without-terms.
THE ALGORITHM ACCOMPANIES ITSELF WITH ITS SHADOWS
Confronted by this fundamental objectlessness from which the logic of the commodity draws its force, the ramified “differences” of categorical thought in which such a vector of “transcendence” is prescribed by terms arranged in ideological tension, mimic a play of substitution as if for the lack of a universal signifier. And in so far as this “lack” invites the compensating fantasy of an Ego-ideal, the operations it puts into motion are those of an excess: wherein a “subversion-of-the-subject” is produced both as a difference without terms & a difference-of-difference. This subversion doesn’t simply invert the relation of transcendence (sub-futurism?), but exposes its entire structural logic as parasitic upon a fundamental fantasy (the “lost object”). The appeal to transcendence of the capitalism is thus enacted upon the social body as a pathological individuation: the Ego in the image of the Corporate-State, whose “subversion” it becomes the agent of through the perverse enactment of a “self-violence.” The ideological dysphoria to which transcendence attends is nothing if not constitutive of the subjectivity (worldliness) for which it substitutes an ur-trauma (the Anthropocene), & in which it must be re-engendered as the signifier of its own “transcendence.” From here it is a simple step to a “culture-clash” or “dysphoria of civilisation”: the quasi-fascist doctrine that ideological struggle is cultural hyperstition (the ubiquitous myth, in one form or another, of a Global World Order).
ACCELERATED EVOLUTIONARY TRANSFORMERS
In its defence, power projects a “cultural front” whose reactionary character solidifies itself by a counter-cathexis – a resistance to resistance – reinforced by self-pastiche. It is necessary to recognise that this reactionary movement always assumes the form of an overcoming, since it poses itself as a culture under threat, adopting the rhetorical position of an “oppressed.” The predominant mode of production of the Corporate-State Apparatus has thus always tended towards the mass distributed individuality of the ego-in-distress. To the ego-in-distress the “agents of subversion” appear as malevolent adversaries of the “emancipation” to which they feel entitled, & which the “freedom of false choices” promises them. Yet subversion is thought born of perpetual movement, not a subjection to the “to come,” while what poses as “transcendental thought” is bound by its fixation upon a future gratification obtained in the present that amounts to nothing more than a political re-engendering of art-for-art’s sake. It is a narcissism that feeds off the melancholy of what, from every other perspective available to the socalled Anthropocene, declares NO FUTURE: the melancholy of the “death of modernity,” of the neoliberal “end of history,” of “climate catastrophe,” etc.
JUST ANOTHER COLLABORATIONIST “ART FORM”
But if the future of the Corporate-State rests on “cultural” foundations, it is necessary to grasp that this future itself corresponds to a global “cultural revolution.” Purveyors of “fully-automated luxury communism” have mistaken the false dichotomy between collective & intimate experience as the foundational antagonism of a trans-futurity in which “accelerated capitalism” will supersede itself. Such algorithmic enervations of social consciousness feed back onto a path of least resistance whose endpoint is no longer critical labour but the “perverse aesthetic pleasure” of self-negation. Yet if the forms of social consciousness are inseparable from their political & economic representations, the trans-futurist moment always runs up against fact that the circulation of value is the circulation of a signifying system & that subjectivity devolves upon the techne of ideology itself, as its very mode of production, & not as some “artificial prosthesis” that may simply be abstracted & reassigned within some theatre of transcendence. Abstraction is first & foremost the abstraction of spectacle, & it is only on this level of abstraction that transcendence occurs – which is to say, by a manipulation of signs (in other words, as a symbolic or differential function).
YOUR REWARD IS THAT YOU SHALL BE PUNISHED
What is the status of a “transcendence” that itself names the category it undermines? That signifies what it exists to over overcome? Is it a dialectical contradiction? A negation-of-negation? A self-supersession? A labour of the negative in the service of a certain destining? The affirmation of the advance of “progress” (its “emancipatory potential”)? Of the positive term always yet to be arrived at? Its ideal reification, etc.? What can be said of its seemingly paradoxical appeal to the equivocal, to anachronism, revolution, catastrophe? To the time before the first & after the last? To the choreographed transgression that is one step ahead of the commodity that is one step ahead of it? To the object that is already a subject & the panicked subject compulsively objectified? To the metaphysic of historical materialism? To the mirror image that got away & the doppelgänger under contract? To the desire for something other, something more, or merely for its own sake? To the life ever after in the eternity of no-future?
WHO SHOT DON QUIXOTE?
The moment it is recognised that all such transcendence is mythopoetic, then the future towards which it is orientated is revealed to be a myth, subverted at the very instant in which it is produced by the movement of the trans-. It comes as the most banal of realisations that the trans- will have already been internalised & sublated into this future-perfect tense as the reified object of a desire it alone can supply. It reminds that the real dynamic Turing identified in the question of computing intelligence wasn’t the capacity for a “machine” to pass for “human” (or for one gender or genus to pass as another), but for a “subject” to believe that it is a universal signifier. Just as the political doesn’t arise at the level of intersubjectivity, but at the level of enunciation – so to the production of myth (commencing with the myth of the subject) arises from alienation. If the polis is the discursive environment in which subjectivity – as a dialogical trope – is represented, then the sheer negativity of this representation (its insuperable difference-from-itself) should alert us to the void that lies at the core of all political power (& of the ambivalence that must ultimately inform its “transcendence”).
THIS OPTION IS NO LONGER AVAILABLE
Were the trans– to be admitted to the category of the universal – as a universal condition transcending all categorization, all reduction to binary opposition, all opposition as such – then the very idea of the trans– “itself” (as a species of non-category) would be fatally menaced & the difference in which it took on its meaning would break down (even if this meaning is that of a subversion-in-advance). If it subsequently assumes the form of a “negation of negation” this is only to the extent that it evokes a “myth of the impossible” in counterpoint to its origin as an impossible myth.* In its movement of apparent reification, such a mythopoetics merely imitates an a-centric structure in order to maintain its promise of emancipation from the very categorical thought upon which it is entirely parasitic & which it presumes to supplant in its “unassailable” ambivalence. In this it would be nothing more than political aestheticism, were it not for the fact that the experience it implies is that of the impossible “itself” arriving, as if from a future-not-yet, under the false appearance of a present that will never have been.
[*How to reassign this mythopoetics’ subversive potential as that which in fact inscribes the “impossible” (the post-Anthropocene): that spectre forever haunting the dream of transcendence. For the Corporate-State only ever evokes “the impossible” in order to parley the exorcising of its own ghosts into the very paradigm of a decisive checking manoeuvre against its adversaries. And if the diurnal ambivalence of the trans- avails of this instant reverse, so too the contrary.]