“Don’t worry about creating some massive political movement or recruiting thousands or millions of people. Don’t worry about changing the State. Barbarians don’t worry about changing the State. That’s for men of the State — who believe in and belong to the State.” – Jack Donovan
Counter-Currents has published a new paper, “Life is Always Right: Futurism and Man in Revolt.” I wrote it while in the process of editing my first book for Arktos Media. Silence can be a good thing, for in my case it usually means that a ghastly derelict soup is heating to a boil. This time it is the lovely pairing of Deleuzo-Nietzschean affirmative political philosophy with the derelicts of the early-20th C avant-garde, the Futurists.
The story of the Futurists is parallel to those of the arditi and other heroic fighting and thinking men; and like the arditi, Futurism weaves its way into and out of Fascism on a path littered with mutual admiration, incomprehension, revolution, and finally, counter-reformation.
The Futurists were simply too radical and too revolutionary to play a major role in the Fascist State. But, States being what they are, this is understandable. We don’t blame the State – right Mr. Donovan? – we just fight it. And while we continue to admire, use, and become what Fascism borrowed from both the arditi and the Futurists – the squadrismo, love of danger, and spirit of transvaluation – we will also critique its apotheosis of the liberal State in all of its subjectifying and capturing power.
Having known about Futurism for as long as I’ve known about Fascism, it never appealed to my overly-rationalized/over-coded sensibilities. I had found a home, as it was, with Fascism and forms of contemporary political action (like the Ultras) that stemmed from squadrismo. After all, I had come to Fascism via what I assumed was the Far Left of French post-structuralism. Little did I know how much Far Left and Far Right have in common. And little did I know how little either of them has to do with radical thought and revolution against being-bourgeois.
My return to Deleuze saved my life, so to speak, by allowing me to radicalize my understanding/conceptual apparatus in such a drastic way that I now think about human organization and conglomeration in terms far removed from liberal tradition and theory. I suppose the trajectory – Poststructuralism – Fascism – Nietzsche – Deleuze – Futurism – makes perfect sense from the standpoint of the teleology that today affords. And yet, as is life (+1+1+1+1 …) if not for a reader-cum-confidant, Rayan Castle, I might never have re-connected with something I’d once been forced to know by academic circumstance. While I have several fascisti and a few barbarians in my conspiratorial circle, I have only one Futurist, and Mr. Castle is also quite ardito, so he has properly embraced his potential.
Just as Mr. Castle was regaling a beautiful few of us with some futurista-ardito act of badassery, another artist a continent away, Kangding Ray, was releasing his latest masterwork, Solens Arc. A few listens in, I hurriedly scribbled a few questions:
Does sound have a morality?
Is there a morality of sound?
How does mundane politics influence those who say yes?
How do visual cues inform how we understand sound?
Does bourgeois music promote a certain morality?
Is it possible to create anti-bourgeois music? What would it sound like?
I knew that Mr. Ray – even by Raster-Noton’s incredibly high and radical standards – was on to something new, radical, and futuristic. It cleaned out the cobwebbed putrid old junk that often masquerades as indispensable relics from a world-weary utopia. It made everything seem old, quaint, and reactionary by comparison. It became the soundtrack to my furiously written paper on Futurism. Thus I am offering it here for those who wish to hear the smells and colors of Futurist revolution.
But a particular review of Mr. Ray’s Solens Arc also prompted a question of its own in my notebook:
“How does one strip away the radical potential of a thought, an idea, a concept, a moment of creation, or a sensation of dereliction?”
The answer simplified is to search for its meaning, which will immediately filter it through the vast language-based cogito that modernity has provided so as to create of each of us a common commodity, political subject, and capitalist consumer. The answer as it pertains to Kangding Ray lies somewhere between the sound/music of Solens Arc, the teleological “clear progression” with a beginning and end that a kindly reviewer heard, and the words that Mr. Ray himself spoke about Solens Arc:
“A stone thrown, just to watch it fly. A projectile launched for the sole purpose of drawing a ballistic trajectory in the sky. The Solens arc is what remains after the subtraction of the goal; a simple parabolic curve defined by gravity, impulse and starting angle. No target to hit, no catharsis to wait for, just the beauty of the flight.”
Is this not the image of nomadic thought?
Mr. Ray made a soundtrack for radical Futurist readers of Deleuze, Nietzsche, and Henri Bergson and the unnamed reviewer heard an album made for patriotic, God fearing, philistines. But the lesson is clear in any case:
While we chafe at the striation of the smooth space of the Outlands – inhospitable mountains turned into productive shopping malls, we do the very same to thought. We carry into any outlands the baggage that only allows for more shopping malls, for more of what we already know.
Meanwhile, back on Mr. Castle’s continent, the Guggenheim Museum opened a special exhibit of Futurist art that will run until September 2014. Its guidebook alone is a magnum opus of dereliction against a flaccid life. So, it seems Futurism is in the air, awaiting new assemblages and conjunctions of radical potential.
Why now? I cannot say, except that Futurism, as I told my own Guattari, Dave Stimpson, is like Deleuze in a mosh pit with Homeric heroes at a Squarepusher concert. It is and can only be untimely, pricking the ears of only a few madmen and madwomen.
Kangding Ray, Solens Arc (Raster-Noton, 2014)
 Jack Donovan, “The New Barbarians,” from A Sky Without Eagles, 2014.
2 thoughts on “Gasoline is Divine”
Mark – love your work and I’m looking forward to the book.