Lovecraft, Cyclonopedia & (re)Materialist Horror

Another acutely inanthropocentric theme ( for want of a better definition, re-defining will follow ) between Lovecraft's fictions and Cyclonopedia is touched upon by O in the opening paragraph of his essay: "Apart from the numerous direct references to Lovecraft and his so-called Cthulhu mythos in Negarestani’s philosophy-fiction, an implicit link exists between the two writers in their shared anti-humanism". For the following topic "anti-humanism" would be an apt phrase, but it is not a writers anti-humanism or even a universes anti-humanism ( see my earlier, etymologically pedantic assertion that this is a fallacy,  -perhaps a flash that all humans, even learned bloggers like O harbour an intrinsically anthropocentric formatting! ). The anti-humanism I would like to explore has a genesis of pure philosophical conflict - anthropocentric epistemologies and ontologies ( and their respective stratas ) collide violently, this seismic event re-inforces cosmicist and dustist paradigms -  maximalisms, cognitive dissonance, de-contexturalization and rabid discombobulations are simultaneously symptoms and catalysts of amalgamating/disintegrating truths, realities, theories and fictions.... the feedback is violent, traumatic and ( most importantly ) infinite.

To begin let us re-examine the infamous opening paragraph from Call of Cthulhu:

"The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far. The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the deadly light into the peace and safety of a new dark age. Theosophists have guessed at the awesome grandeur of the cosmic cycle wherein our world and human race form transient incidents. They have hinted at strange survivals in terms which would freeze the blood if not masked by a bland optimism. But it is not from them that there came the single glimpse of forbidden aeons which chills me when I think of it and maddens me when I dream of it. That glimpse, like all dread glimpses of truth, flashed out from an accidental piecing together of separated things—in this case an old newspaper item and the notes of a dead professor. I hope that no one else will accomplish this piecing out; certainly, if I live, I shall never knowingly supply a link in so hideous a chain."

The "placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity" is our inability to fully comprehend any form of context, we can guess connections, we can Only Connect - but essentially there is always a 'beyond' ( Xeno, exteriors, extraphies )  not matter how intrepidly we chase the horizon. Alvansons temporal, geographical and contextual struggles within the opening incognitum hactenus mirror our own struggles, and relish with russian dolls, horizon chasing and Xenopoetical connections. As Ruthless Culture highlights cyclonopedia "embodies an academic culture where impenetrability, the playful use of data from other disciplines and indifference to objective truth are not hidden secrets but standard operating procedure". Truths, occultisms, fictions and data are putrefying together to form a blackness we can sink into. Whilst reading Cyclonopedia it's incredibly easy to become disorientated, one forms multiple internal narrative hypo-hypo-diegesis ( poropoetix, porocryptics xenopoiesis? ) and ones google history suddenly reads: The Valley of Hinnom, Tellurian-Magnetic, Pazuzu demon, The Wheel of Pestilence, Zurvan Akarana, Tetrasomia.... Hyperstition. As any internet user will know, after hours of crimson-eyed online exploration a subjects context is often no more defined than before the accelerating quest through endless obliquely connected memes, themes, philosophies and paradigms left one dizzy and breathless.

Infinite porocryptics - Xenopoetix, a constant searching for connections, contexts and truths and endless infinite realms, "black seas of infinity", "an inability of the human mind to correlate all it's contents", "The sciences, each straining in its own direction", "dissociated knowledge". Cyclonopedia and it's mechanisms are a metaphor for itself, it's production praxis and the forces that created it. Rather than imagine the tome ( its creation, components, receptions and significance ) in a Borgesian nature it's vital to attempt to psycho-animate these facets under the more dizzying paradigms of cyber-theory and the data saturated sphere we are currently existing through. As truths and fictions become one and the same narrative we see academic assertions that are re-constructed upon a neo-aesthetica. "Cyclonopedia presents Theory as a form of artistic creation" - this is a piece of art that performs a profound demonstration across polylogics, performing simultaneously our cyber-figurian syndrome in unison with our engagement. This dissolution of anthropocentric epistemologies and ontologies is a new mode of enquiry ( mirroring cyberlogics ) that is inanthropic on an ontological level. The massive realms, the lack of distinctions between truths and fictions, theories and metaphors, the de-contexturalized materials are rendered in a neo-aesthetic format that is innately incompatible with our ontological formatting and capacities - in-anthropontologix?

Negarestani's Cyclonopedia has ( I feel ) been designed as a somewhat hyperstitional academic aesthetic, the theory and fictions within building a symphony of endless metastitional webs - our substitional experience of Cyclonopedia is akin to "the piecing together of dissociated knowledge..... open(ing) up such terrifying vistas". The experience of opening Cyclonopedia and racing though it's infinite maze reminds me of the Hallway that the character Navidson explores in Mark Z. Danielewski's  ergodic ( and somewhat  poromythic crypto theory-fiction ) House of Leaves. As the reader ventures deeper the universe changes, the more one grasps the slimier the object, the harder you stare the blacker the air, the faster you run the taller the staircase. 

Lovecraft, Cyclonopedia & Materialist Horror - Inanthropocentricism? ( Micro )

After reading this wonderful interpretation of cyclonopedia I felt compelled to highlight further connections upon the shrewd readings by Doin' the Lambeth Warp A.K.A. "O". The anti-anthropocentric aspects of both Reza Negarestani and H. P. Lovecraft  are well observed, the 'otherness' the 'exteriorites' that loom as modes of horror are intrinsic to both paradigms and praxis within Lovecraft and the wonderfully discombobulating theory-fiction of Negarestani's Cyclonopedia. O highlights many similarities in Lovecraft's fiction and Negarestani's theory-fiction, body horror, extra-materialism, materialistic nihilisms and the primal fear of an indifferent other orchestrating our universe. All these notions emerge from an essential de-centering of ourselves. O summarises this as "anti-anthropocentric" however anti is essentially against, and to say an entity is against oneself is essentially anthropocentric. The old ones of Lovecraft's fictions and the oil of Cyclonopedian narratives do not work against our centering - because, as is so petrifying - we simply are not at a center, in fact we do not feature on any scale, we are not part of the currency of the universe, however important and in control our world presents itself to be, we are not significant, from behind our eyes the importance of our existence is a fallacy. Perhaps a slightly more appropriate term for this ultra-nihilist materialism/cosmicism would be inanthropocentric, the prefix 'in' meaning 'not' or 'lacking' rather than "anti-anthropocentric" which presupposes we matter enough for something to be in conflict with us, which is simply not the ramification of the myriad avenues O pursues across these texts in Lovecraft, Cyclonopedia and Materialist HorrorRather than hang my assertions upon a mere etymological in-discrepancy within the essay I will re-examine various facets that O highlights, and re-inforce the intrinsic inanthropicism as the genesis of horrific trauma. Let us commence with the many facets of body horror in Lovecraft's work which are brought to our attention by O here: 

"But we should not get distracted. Metaphysical terrors take a back seat to sheer physical horror in all of Lovecraft’s best writing. In many of his most celebrated passages the emotion that is evoked most strongly is not even fear per se but revulsion. There is always a hideous miasmic stench, there are always gruesome bioluminescent fungi and nameless slithering invertebrates; traditional horror tropes such as blood and bones are generally eschewed in favour of the ubiquitous slime. The very quantity of ectoplasm, mucus and miscellaneous snot in these stories is startling, before we even consider the stream of adjectives describing them, which gush from the author’s pen like the issue of a gangrenous sore. Perhaps the most evocative description of fleshly mortification is that suffered by the unfortunate Gardner family in The Colour out of Space(1927), who are not so much bodily consumed or even possessed by the sinister entity as they are parasitized and drained by it, reminding one of a hapless insect falling victim to an ichneumon wasp or predatory fungus. This is supreme science-fiction body-horror to rival even the psychosexual nightmare of the Alien films – the entomo-reptilian monster that stars therein having been created, of course, by the Swiss visionary artist and Lovecraft devotee, H. R. Giger."

Horreur de corps in Negarestani's Cyclonopedia are also referenced here:

"A comparable fate seems to befall Hamid Parsani, the fictional Iranian archaeologist in Cyclonopedia. After coming into possession of a mediaeval relic associated with an obscure pre-Islamic Persian cult, he begins to suffer from a leprous skin condition and a concurrent worsening of his already somewhat febrile mental state. Shortly before his final disappearance, one of his friends evocatively describes him as “a bulging syphilitic brain with a pink leech dangling at the root of it”."

There is certainly a physicality present in both texts, there is revulsion, viscerality and the grotesque all pouring forth in a fantastically loquacious dexterity of prose. These are engrossing deliveries but my interest lies in questioning why their presence is so horrific on an ontological premise. Where O presumes that "Metaphysical terrors take a back seat to sheer physical horror" I am inclined to disagree, the physicality, the revulsion is a constant ( in many well described horror tales, detailing the gruesome will always lead towards an effect of repulsion ) but the astonishing depth of terror evoked is not solely a consequence of description or bodily revulsions, they are present but not the cause of such devastating metaphysical rupturing, the cause of these horrors in both Lovecraft and Negarestani's Cyclonopedia is still inanthropicism! Rather than study the wonderfully descriptive language of such penetrating trauma it is vital to examine and frame the acts being conveyed in detail and to question if these acts within the narratives are anthropocentric or inanthropocentric. O exclaims "Perhaps the most evocative description of fleshly mortification is that suffered by the unfortunate Gardner family in The Colour out of Space(1927), who are not so much bodily consumed or even possessed by the sinister entity as they are parasitized and drained by it". Here the essentially inanthropicentric ( I say inanthropic and not cosmicist due to such traumas, within the narrative, occurring on a micro, personal and bodily level ) is unearthed. Consumption and possession are anthropocentric, to be consumed one is the predators meal, the focus, to be possessed by another entity one is again the focus - despite being devoured or owned by are an evil predator or foe one is still the center of the world, the universe hinging around ones existence. To be parasitized is to be positioned upon ( not 'within' or 'in' )  a chronically inanthropocentric context, the host is not the focus, the parasite is indifferent to hosts existence, one is a means to an end for another being, a habitat.... We don't look at the dirt we roam, we stare at the sun - as does the wondrous Cordyceps Unilateralis.

In Cyclonopedia O observes how "A comparable fate seems to befall Hamid Parsani...a leprous skin condition and a concurrent worsening of his already somewhat febrile mental state." most likely the symptom of the "bulging syphilitic brain with a pink leech dangling at the root of it". The parasitic emphasis within this body horror imagery is apparent, Parsani is perhaps infested and hosting, a curse of inanthropocentric connotations. However, this aspect of gruesome decentering via parasitic modes is not dissimilar to another fascinating enquiry Negarestani has embarked upon. The traumatic inanthropocentric horror, the madness, the slip of reality, the experience of de-centering is perhaps operating along similar ontological consequence vectors as Nupta Contagioso/Cadevera....the morbid realisation of ones self as a part of something, and not being the heart and soul of a body/world. This must be torturous ( ontologically and psychologically ) like the Mezentian punishment described in The Aeneid. The ontological trauma is not wholly symmetrical, but facets of interior implications share formal similarities I feel with the psychological woes of parasitism and existential pains of uncovering an inanthropocentric galaxy. The Mezentian torture, the excruciating writhing of the mind in such ( putrefaction / necrosmosis ) context, grappling with the reality(ies) of being(s) amidst the whirlpools of ontological ramifications shares the same inanthropocentric praxial vectors ( modes ) as hosting ( parasitism woes ) and Lovecraftian Cosmicism and inanthropocentric body horrors. The further implications that Negarestani hunts in Corpse Bride: Thinking with Nigredo do not, I feel, offer much scope for highlighting such vivid inanthropocentric parallels with despite their ( the later themes in Corpse Bride ) Mezentian genesis. I do not wish to digress, but rather thought that the inanthropocentricisms implicit ( in and orbiting ) this trio of trauma ( 1- Mezentian Torture in Corpse Bride: Thinking with Nigredo, 2 - Parasitic body horrors in Cyclonopedia and 3 - Lovecraftian Cosmicism both subjective/micro and objectively/macro animated ) are quite a pertinent and haunting theme across the texts.