Cyclonopedia

IdleRich

IdleRich
Yeah, I'd basically agree with most of what you said there Mr Tea. Strangely enough I bought a record by Morricone off ebay called Pazuza today and then got stuck into the book on the bus journey here to read loads of banging on about the same deity.
 

sub-rosa

cannibal horses
Re numbers and the archeologist: I also noticed a mention of Wronski in the first chapter which is interesting. He is one of those crazy polymath figures who had a very unconventional use for mathemathics. In Difference and Repetition, Deleuze mentions him as one of the founders of differential calculus. The guy had come up with a system for synthesizing ideas from all fields of knowledge through calculus (+). He had made a machine for predicting the future and devised mathematical formulations for winning an election, etc. Deleuze follows Wronski in his book by showing that the synthesis of different or even mismatched ideas through a similar method as differential calculus can produce an esoteric or barbaric metaphysics of the universe. Deleuze claims that this metaphysics has huge ethical and political outcomes. As far as I know Wronski believed that a differential synthesis between ideas from different fields of knowledge has an esoteric effect which is stronger than occult. Interestingly, once he lost his position among mathematicians of his time, he found an avid follower, the French occultist Eliphas Levi. Deleuze followed Wronski's interpretation of calculus and numbers in Difference and Repetition and A Thousand Plateaus. The latter work shows how differential or rhizomatic synthesis between ideas create overtly occult fictions and systems (werewolves, vampires, demons, alchemy, or capitalism, nomad, oedipus, etc.) In any case, I agree with the Abdul Alhazred point, that was brilliant!

Here is what I meant by doppelganger




By the way, has anyone noticed the weird things going on in the footnotes, I mean strange coincidences between the manuscript and the preface?:confused:
 

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
Staff member
By the way, has anyone noticed the weird things going on in the footnotes, I mean strange coincidences between the manuscript and the preface?:confused:
Not that much of a coincidence - I mean, they were written by the same guy. :rolleyes: (edit: or were they? Mistersloane thinks maybe not...is there any way to find out? Does it actually matter? Questions, questions...)

Ahem - anyway. That's an interesting image, sub-rosa, is it meant to be a sort of combined Christ/Antichrist? His face is as spooky, in its own way, as my ancient spaceman, don't you think?

Things I'm enjoying so far:

- The concept that there's something inherently diabolical or horrifying about very old objects or places. This is pure Lovecraft, he's always banging on about things being "detestably ancient" - this comes through especially strongly in Imprisoned With The Pharoahs, set in Egypt (natch), arguably the most (in)famously ancient land of all. I expect a lot of it's pretty dusty, too - and of course it's the interaction of dust with liquid (the Nile) that creates the fertility around which the civilisation grew up.

- The concept that a country or region can be inherently demonic, cursed, malevolent or diseased, independently of the people living there - Bill Boroughs had the same idea about the Americas:
Illinois and Missouri, miasma of mound-building peoples, groveling worship of the Food Source, cruel and ugly festivals, dead-end horror of the Centipede God reaches from Moundville to the lunar deserts of coastal Peru. America is not a young land: it is old and dirty and evil before the settlers, before the Indians. The evil is there waiting.
- The 'Wheel Of Pestilence' on p93 that looks for all the world like a biohazard symbol.

- The fact that the reflective deserting American colonel is named West. (Shades of Colonel Kurtz, anyone? If any land is an insane and diseased as Negarestani's Middle East, surely it's Coppola's Vietnam or Konrad's Congo...)

- The fact that little things like this are left to you to spot yourself, thus allowing you to give yourself little clever-points as you notice them. :cool:

- The notion of a unique 'desert theology' - including the neat proposition that, to the Wahhabist mind, any vertical structure (WTC, the Bamiyan Buddhas...) is to be abominated since it is a potential idol and therefore blasphemous, hence the sacredness of the flat desert - which reminds me in parts of Dune, particularly with regard to jihad. Although the emphasis here is more on outright Apocalypticism than the redemptionist warrior-messiah cult of the Fremen.

- The general feeling of the book as a whole, which is that it's an unfathomably tangled nexus of lines radiating off in all directions and dimensions to connect with a huge assortment of disparate subjects, ideas and manias, like a spider lurking in the centre of an enormous web.

I really wasn't sure my £10 had been well spent when I started this book, but I'm really getting into it now (as you can probably tell :)).

Edit: I just showed this book to a couple of my friends - they read the blurb and then laughed in my face. Can't say I entirely blame them, to be honest. :D

Edit edit: I've changed my mind, I think most of it does mean something, it's just that the something is utterly, screamingly insane, with just enough of a subliminal ring of truth to it to give you the rather scary feeling that in some roundabout way he may be onto something! In the same way that a nutter who's eloquently expostulating a fantastically complicated and highly personalised conspiracy theory is a lot different from a nutter who's just spewing random gibberish. In fact, given the sense of deranged paranoia the book gives off, that may not be a bad analogy...
 
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sub-rosa

cannibal horses
... called Pazuza today and then got stuck into the book on the bus journey here to read loads of banging on about the same deity.
I didn't like the pazuzu chapter that much, the demon could be less literal. Never heard of Morricone's Pazuzu, is it good?

is it meant to be a sort of combined Christ/Antichrist? His face is as spooky, in its own way, as my ancient spaceman, don't you think?
Yeah, I guess so. It's a Christ/Antichrist, Conscious/Unconscious, Heavenly/Earthly thing. I prefer your ancient astronaut petroglyph, it has an unearthly simplicity.

The concept that there's something inherently diabolical or horrifying about very old objects, places or other things. This is pure Lovecraft, he's always banging on about things being "detestably ancient" - this comes through especially strongly in Imprisoned With The Pharoahs, set in Egypt (natch), arguably the most (in)famously ancient land of all. I expect a lot of it's pretty dusty, too - and of course it's the interaction of dust with liquid (the Nile) that creates the fertility around which the civilisation grew up.
That's what I like about this work too. The objects and the land are much more demonic than the people. Re the ancient quality: yes it is like Lovecraft in that this horrific ancientness is irreconcilable with tradition or human civilizations. I took the "Inorganic demons" endnote as a hint at Nyarlathotep's relics and tools. Also I like this aspect of the book that the middle east is thoroughly demonic. The air (dust) they breathe, the water they drink (the note that claims the word water in semitic/farsi languages actually means oil), the alphabets they use, the sounds they make (solar rattle), the corrupt governments they have (decay), the cities they build (war as a machine) and so on.

Also the dry/wet mania reads as some kind of Lovecraft with a new perspective. Middle east is dusty and dry, that means it is opposite to Lovecraft's slimy monsters, Antarctica and undersea cities. But, the dust section argues that dry things attract a unique class of monsters and blobby nightmares like petroleum.

I tend to read the second chapter on holes as some sort of instruction for reading the book. In the book and in the middle east, visible things don't make sense because they are the result of underground or subsurface activities between hidden connections. So there should be a new way to see these holes and burrowing activities between topics and ideas. Here the concept of ( )hole complex looks more important than the concept of rhizome.

Re desert theology and the war on idols: what I got from the first chapter was that the numbers and the cross of akht speculated the same idea. At one extreme the desert is a monotheistic utopia, at the other extreme it is a nihilist landscape which comes from the materialist history of the earth. Petroleum pushes/lubricates these two poles toward one another to create middle eastern nightmares.

The fact that little things like this are left to you to spot yourself, thus allowing you to give yourself little clever-points as you notice them.
Very true!!! Even at some point I felt that I am finally ready to take that IQ test.;)
 

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
Staff member
I took the "Inorganic demons" endnote as a hint at Nyarlathotep's relics and tools.
Heh, I was reminded mainly of Gollum (c.f. 'golem' - more Semetic sorcery...) and his 'precious'. :)

I tend to read the second chapter on holes as some sort of instruction for reading the book. In the book and in the middle east, visible things don't make sense because they are the result of underground or subsurface activities between hidden connections. So there should be a new way to see these holes and burrowing activities between topics and ideas. Here the concept of ( )hole complex looks more important than the concept of rhizome.
Yeah, I'm especially intrigued by the idea that plot holes can occur not just in works of fiction but in actual historical narratives, cultures and economies. I also love the way he ties the purely metaphysical discussion together with the layout of Mesopotamian necropolises, with their antechambers, treasure rooms, fake burial chambers or cenotaphs and the subsurface 'plot holes' (literal holes in an archaeological 'plot', or dig site?) connecting them to the real tomb. Which in turn ties in with the recurring theme of duplicity, treachery or 'radical double-dealing' that permeates the whole book.
 

IdleRich

IdleRich
"I didn't like the pazuzu chapter that much, the demon could be less literal. Never heard of Morricone's Pazuzu, is it good?"
Well, I'd never heard of it before either. Now I read it properly it's a seven inch from the Exorcist 2 (which I've never seen) which explains the link to the book I guess. From the sound clip I've heard it's kind of similar to Nadine from Il Serpente if you know that, kind of percussive with almost ethereal, high female voices although another quick listen suggests that it's probably not quite as good as that track.
Anyway, I've finished the book and overall I can't say that I enjoyed it that much but I'll put some more effort to join in the discussion when I'm not at work and I've got time to properly read everything that's been said about it so far.
As you were.
 

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
Staff member
kind of percussive with almost ethereal, high female voices
Sounds a lot like 'Dream Song' by Ministry - I can send you an MP3 if you're interested.

Edit: yes, of course, "sounds like it should sound like", since I've not heard the Morricone tune.

Edit edit: you're right, not terribly similar.

Edit edit edit (ahem): the vocal sample of the girl talking at the end of 'Dream Song' fits the whole d(a)emonic theme rather nicely, in fact:

Oh I had this dream one night...it was like really hot, like start of summer...I had like no fan or anything. I was lying there and I had this weirdest weirdest weirdest like nightmare. I had this nightmare where they're like dreams but they're not dreams they're real ya know? You feel as though you're alive when you're dreaming, you think you're alive when you're dreaming. I had this dream where this angel was coming up, like up my fire escape cause I don't have bars on my windows cause I don't believe in bars on my windows. And she was there in my room I was lying there and she came and she kissed me and I woke up and I must have cum. Do you believe in angels?
 
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IdleRich

IdleRich
"Sounds a lot like 'Dream Song' by Ministry - I can send you an MP3 if you're interested."
What, you mean it sounds as though it should sound like? Yeah, send us it. I guess that that description could fit a lot of tunes though without them being that similar.
 

sub-rosa

cannibal horses
Well, I'd never heard of it before either. Now I read it properly it's a seven inch from the Exorcist 2 (which I've never seen) which explains the link to the book I guess.
Thanks I got the idea. Yes it should be from the movie. Exorcist 2 was quite a disaster. I guess the music belongs to the locust attack scene.
 

sub-rosa

cannibal horses
Heh, I was reminded mainly of Gollum (c.f. 'golem' - more Semetic sorcery...) and his 'precious'. :)
Did the book have a reference to Golem too? I can't remember. If not that is obviously a weak point that it's not included considering it has every other crazy thing in it. ;)

I'm getting close to finishing the book, reading the chapter on the origin of zoroastrianism/monotheism.

Some more thoughts on the book and the list of ideas I am enjoying:

Mr. Tea is right about the similarities between Cyclonopedia and the heart of darkness in Conrad and Coppola's works. Another book which should be mentioned is McCarthy's Blood Meridian, portraying 'the West' as a nightmare without boundary like Negarestan's middle east. There is a quote from Judge Holden (Blood Meridian) in Cyclonopedia which makes me believe that the sermon-giving Colonel West is comparable to the erudite Judge Holden (+).

The title of the book (Cyclonopedia: Cyclone+Encyclopedia) is quite in tune with the style of the book. Borges' The Book of Imaginary Beings and Pliny's Encyclopedia come to mind. I like the idea of Cyclonopedia as an imaginary or hyperstitional middle eastern encyclopedia. Reading cyclonopedia/middle east like a normal narrative is tormenting because the book is an encyclopedia and encyclopedias can't be read like fiction or theory books.

In the last chapters most of the concepts fit together well. A Good Meal esp. gives the book an eerie atmosphere which makes the book swing between pure evil and love. It wraps the idea of oil, earth, sun in multiple different crazy ways: earth negates the sun which stands for capitalism and Bataille's solar excess. This is evident in the earth's betrayal or openness toward the sun. Also the political remaking of mythology sounds ambitious: sun/capitalism/solar deity descends to earth out of its desire for power or out of love. The sun's descent to the underworld or earth causes a new becoming or metamorphosis for capitalism/sun. Like the death of god, oil is the dark fruit of this becoming or the grotesque vision of this metamorphosis.

Also the idea that oil represents the unconscious of the earth's ambiguous feelings for sun/capitalism and sun's sadistic love for earth (pp. 233-234). I think there is even a subtle mention of Jungian symbolism. Oil is compared with nigredo or alchemical blackness (+ and also this for pictures +). In the study of archetypes and collective symbols, nigredo is the first step toward universal knowledge or the philosopher's stone and represents the unconscious and the state of uncertainty. Whereas in Negarestani's account it is the last step in understanding the earth. Anyway, the image of oil as nigredo or the political and economical unconscious of the collective world is fascinating. Also the insinuation that the politics of oil and the war on terrorism express the unconscious activities of the sun/capitalism in connection with the history of the earth. This repeats the idea of treachery, double betrayal or openness that Mr. Tea noted: oil betrays sun and earth. Again cyclonopedia's suggestion that the fruit of becoming for I/sun/god/capitalism is neither He/solar empire/dead god/hypercapitalism nor She/earth/islamic anticapitalism, but It/mutant dead god/Oil/(?).
 

IdleRich

IdleRich
"Mr. Tea is right about the similarities between Cyclonopedia and the heart of darkness in Conrad and Coppola's works. Another book which should be mentioned is McCarthy's Blood Meridian, portraying 'the West' as a nightmare without boundary like Negarestan's middle east. There is a quote from Judge Holden (Blood Meridian) in Cyclonopedia which makes me believe that the sermon-giving Colonel West is comparable to the erudite Judge Holden (+)."
Yeah, saw that bit. Reckon Kurtz is a better parallel for West than Holden though isn't he?

"The title of the book (Cyclonopedia: Cyclone+Encyclopedia) is quite in tune with the style of the book. Borges' The Book of Imaginary Beings and Pliny's Encyclopedia come to mind. I like the idea of Cyclonopedia as an imaginary or hyperstitional middle eastern encyclopedia. Reading cyclonopedia/middle east like a normal narrative is tormenting because the book is an encyclopedia and encyclopedias can't be read like fiction or theory books."
Yes, true enough and this was my problem I think. I was longing for the character from the first chapter to re-emerge and to be somehow tied into all the stuff in the Encyclopaedia.
 

IdleRich

IdleRich
Also, anyone seen this film Begotten that keeps getting mentioned? It's another one that's been on my lovefilm list for ages but I might just buy it. It's supposed to be pretty nasty and boring from what I've heard.
 

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
Staff member
Did the book have a reference to Golem too? I can't remember. If not that is obviously a weak point that it's not included considering it has every other crazy thing in it. ;)
Not so far - I'm about 2/3 of the way through I suppose - but I don't think golems are particularly Middle Eastern, they come more from mediaeval European Jewish ('Yiddish') folklore. The original golem was created to destroy the enemies of the Jews of Prague, IIRC. You're right though, the idea would probably tie in quite neatly with a lot of the themes dealt with in the book.

Also the idea that oil represents the unconscious of the earth's ambiguous feelings for sun/capitalism and sun's sadistic love for earth (pp. 233-234). I think there is even a subtle mention of Jungian symbolism. Oil is compared with nigredo or alchemical blackness (+ and also this for pictures +). In the study of archetypes and collective symbols, nigredo is the first step toward universal knowledge or the philosopher's stone and represents the unconscious and the state of uncertainty. Whereas in Negarestani's account it is the last step in understanding the earth. Anyway, the image of oil as nigredo or the political and economical unconscious of the collective world is fascinating. Also the insinuation that the politics of oil and the war on terrorism express the unconscious activities of the sun/capitalism in connection with the history of the earth. This repeats the idea of treachery, double betrayal or openness that Mr. Tea noted: oil betrays sun and earth. Again cyclonopedia's suggestion that the fruit of becoming for I/sun/god/capitalism is neither He/solar empire/dead god/hypercapitalism nor She/earth/islamic anticapitalism, but It/mutant dead god/Oil/(?).
This stuff is all fascinating, but I must say it's not obvious to me where this link between the sun and capitalism comes in. If anything, the sun's activity viz. constantly pouring forth free energy in expectation of nothing in return seems rather un-capitalistic to me. Does Bataille deal with this?

The mention of McCarthy is timely, a mate of mine was recommending him to me just the other day, so I might make something by him my next book purchase.

Edit: "the sun's sadistic love for the earth" makes me think of -

How's that for "utter immanence"? ;)
 
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Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
Staff member
The sinister petropolitical undercurrents of the Tellurian Lube claim another victim:

stelfox said:
Hi all, just thought I'd let you know that I'm leaving the country and heading off to take a newspaper job in a strange oil-rich Emirate for a while.
:D
 

nomadthethird

more issues than Time mag
NO! PLEASE don't think that! When you find you don't 'get' something, there are generally two possible explanations:

1) there's something there that you're not getting (but which other people are getting, or could get), or

2) there's nothing inherently there to be got.
Haven't read this yet but it seems like I'd posit a

3) there's some kind of overwrought and somewhat sloppy attempt at schizoanalysis going on that might make more sense if read immediately after a three year LSD bender
 
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