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Nick Land’s Poeticisation of Capital’s Obscenity

I thought this was an incredibly powerful description of Nick Land’s project by Mark Fisher, on pg 42 of Post-Capitalist Desire. It’s a position I’d understood intellectually but reading it left me with a momentary flash of this obscene totality weaving itself materially and immateriality through social reality as it orchestrates its own expansion and continued ascension. As Fisher later describes capital: “Capital is purposiveness without purpose. Endless driving… There’s no final purpose to it.” (pg 126)

This is an incredibly powerful vision and one which has left me intending to have another go at reading Nick Land:

His idea was that capital was the most intense force ever to exist on earth—that the whole of terrestrial history had led to the emergence of this effectively planetary artificial intelligence system which therefore can be seen as retrospectively guiding all of history towards its own emergence—a bit like Skynet in the Terminator films.

Land’s work is this intense poeticisation of the power of capital. It’s interesting that that work came out in the Nineties at that moment of the high triumph of capital, after the collapse of the Soviet system at the end of the Eighties. Land’s work was really a play on—a development of—a kind of remix of earlier, ostensibly left-wing thought—particularly the work of Deleuze and Guattari and Lyotard—and they tried to imagine precisely a kind of postcapitalism that would try not to involve retreating from capitalist modernity but trying to go all the way through it.

Categories: Platform and agency Post-Neoliberal Civics Things to think about

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