Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Supplemental Reading for Our Marx Lecture:

In his 1888 Preface to The Communist Manifesto, Frederick Engels attributes to Marx a “proposition which, in my opinion, is destined to do for history what Darwin’s theory has done for biology[.]” This proposition is as follows:

[I]n every historical epoch, the prevailing mode of economic production and exchange, and the social organization necessarily following from it, form the basis upon which is built up, and from which alone can be explained, the political and intellectual history of that epoch; that consequently the whole history of mankind (since the dissolution of primitive tribal society, holding land in common ownership) has been a history of class struggles, contests between exploiters and exploited, ruling and oppressed classes; that the history of these class struggles forms a series of evolutions in which, nowadays, a stage has been reached where the exploited and oppressed class -– the proletariat –- cannot attain its emancipation from the sway of the exploiting and ruling class –- the bourgeoisie -– without, at the same time, and once and for all, emancipating society at large from all exploitation, oppression, class distinctions and class struggles.

To the citizen Maurice Lach√Ętre

Dear Citizen,

I applaud your idea of publishing the translation of “Das Kapital” as a serial. In this form the book will be more accessible to the working class, a consideration which to me outweighs everything else.

That is the good side of your suggestion, but here is the reverse of the medal: the method of analysis which I have employed, and which had not previously been applied to economic subjects, makes the reading of the first chapters rather arduous, and it is to be feared that the French public, always impatient to come to a conclusion, eager to know the connexion between general principles and the immediate questions that have aroused their passions, may be disheartened because they will be unable to move on at once.

That is a disadvantage I am powerless to overcome, unless it be by forewarning and forearming those readers who zealously seek the truth. There is no royal road to science, and only those who do not dread the fatiguing climb of its steep paths have a chance of gaining its luminous summits.

Believe me, dear citizen, Your devoted, Karl Marx
London, March 18, 1872

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Our Syllabus

CS 500A-01 (2574):
Introduction to Critical Theory Spring, 2018, San Francisco Art Institute

Instructor: Dale Carrico, dcarrico@sfai.edu; ndaleca@gmail.com
Course Blog: http://introcritsfai.blogspot.com/
Fridays 1-3:45, Chestnut MCR
Rough Basis for Grade: Att/Part, 20%, Presentation, 20%; Final Paper 12-15pp. 60%.

Course Description:

"The philosophers hitherto have only interpreted the world, but the point is to change it." -- Karl Marx

"Feminists are no more aware of different things than other people; they are aware of the same things differently. Feminist consciousness, it might be ventured, turns a 'fact' into a 'contradiction.'" -- Sandra Lee Bartky

"Artists inhabit the magical universe." -- William Burroughs

This course is a chronological and thematic survey of key texts in critical and cultural theory. A skirmish in the long rivalry of philosophy and rhetoric yielded a turn in Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud into the post-philosophical discourse of critical theory. In the aftermath of world war, critical theory took a biopolitical turn in Arendt, Fanon, and Foucault -- a turn still reverberating in work on socially legible bodies by writers like Haraway, Spivak, Butler, and Puar. And with the rise of the global precariat and climate catastrophe, critical theory is now turning again in STS (science and technology studies) and EJC (environmental justice critique) to articulate the problems and promises of an emerging planetarity. Theories of the fetish define the turn of the three threshold figures of critical theory -- Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud (commodity, sexuality, and ressentimentality) -- and fetishisms ramify thereafter in critical accounts from Benjamin (aura), Adorno (culture industry), Barthes (myth), Debord (spectacle), Klein (logo), and Harvey ("tech") to Mulvey and Mercer (the sexed and raced gaze). We think of facts as found not made, but facts are made to be found and, once found, made to be foundational. Let us pursue the propositions that fetishes are figures we take to yield false facts, while facts are figures we have fetishized to yield paradoxical truths.

                Provisional Schedule of Meetings

                Week One | January 19
Maps, Stories, Warnings by Way of Introduction
                Week Two | January 26 (Drop/Add Deadline)
Bernard le Bovier de Fontenelle,
Digression on the Ancients and the Moderns
Immanuel Kant,
Idea for a Universal History from a Cosmopolitan Point of View
W.E.B. DuBois, Of Our Spiritual Strivings
--supplemental Oscar Wilde, The Soul of Man Under Socialism
                Week Three | February 2
Nietzsche, On Truth and the Lie in an Extramoral Sense {Co-facilitation: Eleanor Schnarr} 
 Ecce Homo: Preface -- Why I Am So Wise -- Why I Am So Clever -- Why I Am a Destiny  {Co-facilitation: Hayley Jensen}
--supplemental Selections from The Gay Science       
                Week Four | February 9
Marx on
The Fetishism of Commodities and the Secret Thereof from Capital
--supplemental Marx and Engels, Theses on Feuerbach and Marx on Idealism and Materialism
                Week Five | February 16
Sigmund Freud,
Fetishism{Co-facilitation: Mika Sperling} 
Excerpts from Freud's Case Study of Dr. Schreber: 1, Psychoanalysis and Scientificity; 2,  Storytelling; {Co-facilitation: Kat Brown}  
3, Psychoanalysis and Patriarchy (Homosociality and Homosexuality); 4. Psychoanalysis Brought to Crisis. {Co-facilitation: Michael Polakof}
                Week Six | February 23
Walter Benjamin,
Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproducibility {Co-facilitation: Arthur Gies}
Adorno and Horkheimer, The Culture Industry {Co-facilitation: Ben Cornish}
--supplemental Benjamin, A Short History of Photography and Adorno, The Culture Industry Reconsidered
                Week Seven | March 2 (midterm grading period ends)
Roland Barthes,
Mythologies {Co-facilitation: Whitney Humphreys}
--supplemental Daniel Harris, The Futuristic
                Week Eight | March 9
Guy Debord,
Society of the Spectacle
Naomi Klein,
Taking On the Brand Bullies from No Logo {Co-facilitation: Laura Pucchini}
--supplemental Naomi Klein, Patriarchy Gets Funky
                Week Nine | March 12-16 | Spring Break
                Week Ten | March 23
William Burroughs, Immortality
{Co-facilitation: Yourong Zhao} 
Audre Lorde, Age, Race, Class, and Sex: Women Redefining Difference {Co-facilitation: Yiling Zeng}
Hannah Arendt, Reflections on Violence  {Co-facilitation: Heng Yang}
 --supplemental William Burroughs, On Coincidence and Hannah Arendt, Action and the Miracle of Forgiveness
                Week Eleven | March 30
Frantz Fanon, Selections from
Black Skin, White Masks
Laura Mulvey,
Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema {Co-facilitation: David Boo} 
Kobena Mercer On Mapplethorpe {Co-facilitation: Sami Cutrona} 
                 Week Twelve | April 6 (last day to withdraw with a "W")
Michel Foucault, from Discipline and Punish,
Introduction, Docile Bodies, Panoptism {Co-facilitation: Haley Toyama and Stephen Zuo} 
Angela Davis, selections from Are Prisons Obsolete? {Co-facilitation: Sophia Cook}
Michel Foucault, from History of Sexuality: We Other Victorians, Right of Death and Power Over Life {Co-facilitation: Yangyi Chen}
Achille Mbembe, Necropolitics
                Week Thirteen | April 13 (April 9-13 MFA Reviews)
                Week Fourteen | April 20
Judith Butler, Introduction and Chapter One from
Undoing Gender {Co-facilitation: Taylor Shell}
Donna Haraway, A Manifesto for Cyborgs {Co-facilitation: Sae Yong Lee}
The Combahee River Collective Statement {Co-facilitation: Stan Song}
Carol Adams, Preface from Neither Man Nor Beast and Manifesto
                Week Fifteen | April 27
David Harvey
Fetishism of Technology {Co-facilitation: Wenzhe Wang}
Hannah Arendt, The Conquest of Space {Co-facilitation: Layla Dong}
CS Lewis
Abolition of Man (you need only read Chapter Three)
                Week Sixteen | May 4
Aldo Leopold, The Land Ethic
Bruno Latour,
To Modernise Or Ecologise?
Gayatri Spivak, Theses on Planetarity

Course Objectives:

I. Contextualizing Contemporary Critical Theory: The inaugural Platonic repudiation of rhetoric and poetry, Vita Activa/Vita Contemplativa, Marx's last Thesis on Feuerbach, Kantian Critique, the Frankfurt School, Exegetical and Hermeneutic Traditions, Literary and Cultural Theory from the Restoration period through New Criticism, from Philosophy to Post-Philosophy: Marx, Nietzsche, Freud; the postwar biopolitical turn in Arendt, Fanon, and Foucault; and the emerging post-colonial, post-international, post-global planetarity of theory in an epoch of digital networked media formations, anthropogenic climate catastrophe, and intersectional associations.

II. Survey of Key Themes in Critical Theory: Agency, Alienation, Aura, Cisheteronormativity, Critique, Culture Industry, Discourse, Equity-in-Diversity, Facticity, Fetish, Figurality, Humanism/Post-Humanism, Ideology, Intersectionality, Judgment, Normativity, Performance, Planetarity, Post-Colonialism, Queerness, Race, Recognition, Resistance, Scientificity, Sociality, Spectacle, Textuality, White Supremacy.

III. Survey of Key Critical Methodologies: Critique of Ideology, Marxism/Post-Marxism, Psychoanalysis, Foucauldian Discourse Analysis, Critical Race Theory, Gender Theory, Science and Technology Studies, Environmental Justice.

IV. Connecting theoria and poiesis: thinking and acting, theory and practice, creative expressivity as aesthetic judgment and critical theory as poetic refiguration, etc.

Course Policies and Other Information

Academic Resource Center

The Academic Resource Center (ARC) provides free tutoring to all SFAI students on any assignment or project. Because everyone benefits from discussing and developing their work in an individualized setting, SFAI recommends that all students make use of the Academic Resource Center.

Students can make an appointment with a tutor by visiting https://tutortrac.sfai.edu (username is the first part of your SFAI email address; password is your last name). The Center is open throughout the semester (beginning after the add/drop period) from 10am to 4pm Monday through Friday in the lower level of the Chestnut Street campus (at the Francisco Street entrance), with extended hours in the Residence Halls and at the Graduate Campus. Students are also welcome to drop by the Center any time during open hours to make use of the ARC’s writing reference library, computers, and study spaces.

Disability Accommodations

SFAI has a commitment to provide equal educational opportunities for qualified students with disabilities in accordance with state and federal laws and regulations; to provide equality of access for qualified students with disabilities; and to provide accommodations, auxiliary aids, and services that will specifically address those functional limitations of the disability which adversely affects equal educational opportunity. SFAI will assist qualified students with disabilities in securing such appropriate accommodations, auxiliary aids and services. The Accessibility Services Office at SFAI aims to promote self-awareness, self determination, and self-advocacy for students through our policies and procedures.
In the case of any complaint related to disability matters, a student may access the student grievance procedures; however, complaints regarding requests for accommodation are resolved pursuant to Section IV – Process for Requests for Accommodations: Eligibility, Determination and Appeal.

The Accessibility Services Office is located on the Chestnut Campus in the Student Affairs Office and can be reached at accessiblity@sfai.edu.

Academic Integrity and Misconduct Policy

The rights and responsibilities that accompany academic freedom are at the heart of the intellectual, artistic, and personal integrity of SFAI. At SFAI we value all aspects of the creative process, freedom of expression, risk-taking, and experimentation that adhere to the fundamental value of honesty in the making of one’s academic and studio work and in relationship to others and their work. Misunderstanding of the appropriate academic conduct will not be accepted as an excuse for academic dishonesty. If a student is unclear about appropriate academic conduct in relationship to a particular situation, assignment, or requirement, the student should consult with the instructor of the course, Department Chair, Program Directors, or the Dean of Students.

Forms of Academic Misconduct


Plagiarism is the unacknowledged use of another’s words, ideas, or information. At SFAI academic writing must follow conventions of documentation and citation (6.1; MLA Handbook, Joseph Gibaldi ch.2). Students are advised to seek out this guideline in the Academic Support Center, to ask faculty when they are in doubt about standards, and to recognize they are ultimately responsible for proper citation. In the studio, appropriation, subversion, and other means of challenging convention complicate attempts to codify forms of acknowledgment and are often defined by disciplinary histories and practices and are best examined, with the faculty, in relationship to the specific studio course.


Cheating is the use or attempted use of unauthorized information including: looking at or using information from another person’s paper/exam; buying or selling quizzes, exams, or papers; possessing, referring to, or employing opened textbooks, notes, or other devices during a quiz or exam. It is the responsibility of all students to consult with their faculty, in a timely fashion, concerning what types of study aids and materials are permissible in their specific course.

Falsification and Fabrication

Falsification and fabrication are the use of identical or substantially the same assignment to fulfill the requirements for two or more courses without the approval of the faculty involved, or the use of identical or substantially the same assignment from a previously completed course to fulfill requirements for another course without the approval of the instructor of the later course. Students are expected to create new work in specific response to each assignment, unless expressly authorized by their faculty ton do otherwise.

Unfair Academic Advantage

Unfair academic advantage is interference—including theft, concealment, defacement or destruction of other students’ works, resources, or material—for the purpose of gaining an academic advantage.

Noncompliance with Course Rules

The violation of specific course rules as outlined in the syllabus by the faculty or otherwise provided to the student.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Theses Drawn from Planetarity

The following is from "Planetarity," Chapter Three of Death of a Discipline by Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, published in 2003 by the Columbia University Press and based on the Wellek Library Lectures in Critical Theory she delivered in May 2000. The following excerpts amount to just a few pages from a much longer text and are divided (by me) into numbered theses -- most of them shorn from the context of specific close textual readings that give them their specific vitality -- but each one of which comments in this form on key themes from our course.


The meaning of the figure is undecidable, and yet we must attempt to dis-figure it, read the logic of the metaphor. We know that the figure can and will be literalized in yet other ways. All around us is the clamor for the rational destruction of the figure, the demand for not clarity but immediate comprehensibility by the ideological average. This destroys the force of literature as a cultural good… [T]o learn to read is to learn to dis-figure the undecidable figure into a responsible literality, again and again. It is my belief that initiation into cultural explanation is… a training in reading.


I propose the planet to overwrite the globe. Globalization is the imposition of the same system of exchange everywhere. In the gridwork of electronic capital, we achieve that abstract ball covered in latitudes and longitudes, cut by virtual lines, once the equator and the tropics and so on, now drawn by the requirements of Geographical Information Systems. To talk planet-talk by way of unexamined environmentalism, referring to an undivided "natural" space rather than a differentiated political space, can work in the interest of this globalization… The globe is on our computers. No one lives there. It allows us to think we can aim to control it. The planet is in the species of alterity, belonging to another… and yet we inhabit it, on loan…. When I invoke the planet I think of the effort required to figure the (im)possibility of this undrived intuition.


To be human is to be intended toward the other. W provide for ourselves transcendental figurations of… this animating gift: mother, nation, god, nature. These are names of alterity, some more radical than others. Planet-thought opens up to embrace an inexhaustible taxonomy of such names… If we imagine ourselves as… planetary creatures rather than global entities, alterity remains underived from us; it is not our dialectical negation, it contains us as much as it flings us away… We must persistently educate ourselves into this peculiar mindset.


One will have to look out for what Raymond Williams calls the preemergent around the corner, suppressed by a specifically metropolitan moment that emphasizes the uneven and asymmetrical global digital divide. The "preemergent" leads us toward a "structure of feeling." … But thinking of institutional attitudes to be fostered by pedagogy, we do not need to tap those modes, we need only remember them. The altered attitudes toward language learning, areas versus nation-states, figure versus rational expectations… can no doubt be plotted as a "structure of feeling," if that is the language we prefer. The scenario that I am constructing would suggest that the dominant figuring of "prehistory" as cyberpresent or science fiction adventure would interfere with the emergence of the figuration of an undecidable planetary alterity.


The country… is not simply the prenational as opposed to the national. It is also the… mass of the national, to which the blood rushes first and that becomes continuous with the exchange of the Earth. The Earth is the paranational image that can substitute for international and can perhaps provide, today, a displaced site for the imagination of planetarity. The choice of the blood rushing back as the first move, the description of the rural as a specifically national mass, and the inclusion of the trade-related word "redistribution" … seeks to undo the contradiction between the national and the rural.


Just as socialism at its best would persistently and repeatedly wrench capital away frm capitalism, so must the new Comparative Literature persistently and repeatedly undermine and undo the definitive tendency of the dominant to appropriate the emergent… Training in such persistent and repetitive gestures comes, necessarily, in the classroom… This is not an easy "positional skepticism of postmodernist literary and cultural studies," but something to worked through in the interest of yoking the humanities, however distantly, with however few guarantees, to a just world… If we want to compete with the hard "science"(s) and the social sciences at their hardest as "human science," we have already lost, as one loses institutional competition. In the arena of humanities as the uncoercive rearrangement of desire, he who wins loses.


In this era of global capital triumphant, to keep responsibility alive in the reading and teaching of the textual is at first sight impractical. It is, however, the right of the textual to be so responsible, responsive, answerable. The "planet" is, here, as perhaps always, a catachresis for inscribing collective responsibility as right. Its alterity, determining experience, is mysterious and discontinuous -- an experience of the impossible. It is such collectivities that must be opened up with the question "How many are we?" when cultural origin is detranscendentalized into fiction -- the toughest task in the diaspora.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Big Data As Spectacle: A Bonus Comment By Way of Our Missed Meeting Last Week

First being is degraded into having, then having is degraded into appearing, and now appearing is degraded into targeting....

We have arrived at the "targeting" phase of Spectacle. In the specifically digital-networked Spectacle since the turn of the millennium -- after which mass-mediation is no longer defined by broadcast and press publication -- what Debord called the Opium War of "enhanced survival" (his condensation of the Benjaminian War Machine in the Epilogue of "Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproducibility" with the Adornian "manufactured needs" of the Culture Industry chapter of Dialectic of Enlightenment) has given way to a panoptic profiling/targeted marketing harassment promising to confer both legibility and individuation for consumer subjection, an operation absolutely continuous with at once the Big Data profiling framing every subject for eventual legal prosecution and the biometric profiling tagging every subject for ongoing medical experimentation (digital networked bioremediation by Big Pharma) and/or eventual effective targeting by drone (the drone is synecdochic for the range of collateral damaging demanded by disaster capitalism).

Quite relevant to this telling of the tale is Naomi Klein's latter day elaboration of the Debordian account back in No Logo, in which an advertizing practice originating in the false individuation of mass-produced consumer goods via the brands they bear eventuated in the global/digital moment in the false individuation of mass-consumers via the brands they buy. As in Debord, the degrading of already degraded having into "appearing" seduces spectator-subjects through something a bit like Althusserian interpellation, offering up social legibility, usually by means of subcultural signaling of identifications and dis-identifications, through the citation -- via conspicuous consumption -- of already-available scripts and stage-settings (the grownup living room on the glossy cover of a furniture catalog, the rebellion of a concert t-shirt, the romance of over-expensive coffee, the reassuring daydreams of futurological projections and displacements).

There is a threat inhering in the Althusserian hail -- yes, a threat to rather than resource for hegemonic management -- should just enough hails ring out (hey, you, hey, You, hey, YOU!) the subject turning and turning and turning to meet the would-be authority might be left more dizzy than docile -- might even make the reflective turn of thought-made-act to which Arendt looked for a last miraculous hope of redemption from  tyranny. But is this threat recontained (or rendered more efficient, in case the threat was never more than delusive anyway) in the targeted hail of the networked-data profile? Can we resist the authoritarian hail of the profile that authors you for you? The Big Data Hail scans the iris and the gait and the buying history and the message trail and the credit rating at once to collapse the indetermination of multiple readings depriving you -- in a privation yielding a last vestige of privacy -- of the singular selfhood that becomes the target, knows enough more than you about you do to aggregate the into the heavy hand of the Spectacle, a knowing so authoritative the transferential brute-force alone at hand might re-write you in the image of the profitably congenial profile before you know enough to know it?

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Immortality by William S. Burroughs

"To me the only success, the only greatness, is immortality." -- James Dean, quoted in James Dean: The Mutant King, by David Dalton

The colonel beams at the crowd . . . pomaded, manicured, he wears the satified expression of one who has just sold the widow a fraudulent peach orchard.

"Folks, we're here to sell the only thing worth selling or worth buying and that's immortality. Now here is the simplest solution and well on the way. Just replace the worn-out parts and keep the old heap on the road indefinitely."

As transplant techniques are perfected and refined, the age-old dream of immortality is now within the grasp of mankind. But who is to decide out of a million applicants for the same heart? There simply aren't enough parts to go around. You need the job lot once a year to save 20 percent, folks. Big executives use a heart a month just as regular as clockwork. Warlords, paying off their soldiers in livers and kdneys and genitals, depopulate whole areas. Vast hospital cities cover the land; the air-conditioned hospital palaces of the rich radiate out to field hospitals and open-air operating booths. The poor are rising in mobs. They are attacking government warehouses where the precious parts are stored. Everyone who can afford it has dogs and guards to protect himself from roving bands of parts hunters, like the dreaded Wild Doctors, who operate on each other after the battle, cutting the warm quivering parts from the dead and dying. Cut-and-grab men dart out of doorways and hack out a kidney with a few expert strokes of their four-inch scalpels. People have lost all shame. Here's a man who sold his daughter's last kidney to buy himself a new groin-appears on TV to appeal for funds to buy little Sally an artificial kidney and give her this last Christmas. On his arm is a curvaceous blond known apparently as Bubbles. She calls him Long John; now isn't that cute?

A flourishing black market in parts grows up in the gutted cities devastated by parts riots. In terrible slums, scenes from Brueghel and Bosch are reenacted; misshapen masses of rotten scar tissue crawling with maggots supported on crutches and cans, in wheel-chairs and carts. Brutal-as-butchers practitioners operate without anesthetic in open-air booths surrounded by their bloody knives and saws. The poor wait in parts lines for diseased genitals, a cancerous lung, a cirrhotic liver. They crawl towards the operating booths holding forth nameless things in bottles that they think are usable parts. Shameless swindlers who buy up operating garbage in job lots prey on the unwary.

And here is Mr. Rich Parts. He is three hundred years old. He is still subject to accidental death, and the mere thought of it throws him into paroxysms of idiot terror. For days he cowers in his bunker, two hundred feet down in solid rock, food for fifty years. A trip from one city to another requires months of sifting and checking computerized plans and alternate routes to avoid the possibility of an accident. His idiotic cowardice knows no bounds. There he sits, looking like a Chimu vase with a thick layer of smooth purple scar tissue. Encased as he is in this armor, his movements are slow and hydraulic. It takes him ten minutes to sit down. This layer gets thicker and thicker right down to the bone-the doctors have to operate with power tools. So we leave Mr. Rich Parts and the picturesque parts people their monument, a mountain of scar tissue.

As L. Ron Hubbard, founder of scientology, said: "The rightest right a man could be would be to live infinitely wrong." I wrote "wrong" for "long" and the slip is significant-for the menas by which immortality is realized in science fiction, which will soon be science fact, are indeed infinitely wrong, the wrongest wrong a man can be, vampiric or worse.

Improved transplant techniques open the question whether the ego itself could be transplanted from one body to another, and the further question as to exactly where this entity resides. Here is Mr. Hart, a trillionaire dedicated to his personal immortality. Where is this thing called Mr. Hart? Precisely where, in the human nervous system, does this ugly death-sucking, death-dealing, death-fearing thing reside? Science gives only a tentative answer: the "ego" seems to be located in the midbrain at the top of the head. "Well," he thinks, "couldn't we just scoop it out of a healthy youth, throw his in the garbage where it belongs, and slide in MEEEEEEEE?" So he starts looking for a brain surgeon, a "scrambled egg" man, and he wants the best. When it comes to a short-order job old Doc Zeit is tops. He can switch eggs in an alley...

Mr. Hart embodies the competitive, acquisitive, success-minded spirit that formulated American capitalism. The logical extension of this ugly spirit is criminal. Success is its own justification. He who succees deserves to succeed; he is RIGHT. The operation is a success. The doctors have discreetly withdrawn. When a man wakes up in a beautiful new bod, he can flip out. It wouldn't pay to be a witness. Mr. Hart stands up and stretches luxuriously in his new body. He runs his hands over the lean young muscle where his potbelly used to be. All that remains of the donor is a blob of gray matter in a dish. Mr. Hart puts his hands on his hips and leans over the blob.

"And how wrong can you be? DEAD."

He spits on it and he spits ugly.

The final convulsions of a universe based on quantitative factors, like money, junk, and time, would seem to be at hand. The time approaches when no amount of money will buy anything and time itself will run out...

Mentase is a parable of vampirism gone berserk. But all vampiric blueprints for immortality are wrong not only from the ethical standpoint. They are ultimately unworkable. In Space Vampires Colin Wilson speaks of benign vampires. Take a little, leave a little. But they always take more than they leave by the basic nature of the vampire process of inconspicuous but inexorable consumption. The vampire converts quality-live blood, vitality, youth, talent-into quantity-food and time for himself. He perpetrates the most basic betrayal of the spirit, reducing all human dreams to his shit. And that's the wrongest wrong a man can be.

Personal immortality in a physical body is impossible, since a physical body exists in time and time is that which ends. When someone says he wants to live forever, he forgets that forever is a time word. All three-dimensional immortality projects, to say the least, are ill-advised, since they always immerse the aspirant deeper in time.

The tiresome concept of personal immortality is predicated on the illusion of some unchangeable precious essence: greedy old MEEEEEEEE forever. But as the Buddhists say, there is no MEEEEEEEE, no unchanging ego.

What we thing of as our ego is defensive reaction, just as the symptoms of an illness-fever, swelling, sweating-are the body's reaction to an invading organism. Our beloved ego, arising from the rotten weeds of lust and fear and anger, has no more continuity that a fever sweat. There is no ego; only a shifting process as unreal as the Cities of the Odor Eaters that dissolve in rain. A moment's introspection demonstrates that we are not the same as we were a year ago or a week ago. "What ever possessed me to do that?"

A step toward rational immortality is to break down the concept of a separate personal, and therefore inexorably mortal, ego. This opens many doors. Your spirit could reside in a number of bodies, not as some hideous parasite draining the host, but as a helpful little visitor. "Roger the Lodger . . don't take up much room . . show you a trick or two . . never overstay my welcome."

Take fifty photos of the same person over an hour. Some of them will look so unlike the subject as to be unrecognizable. And some of them will look like some other person. "Why, he looks just like Khrushchev with one gold tooth peeking out."

The illusion of a separate, inviolable identity limits your perceptions and confines you in time. You live in other people and other people live in you- "visiting," we call it-and of course it's ever so much easier with one's Clonies.

When I first heard about cloning I thought, what a fruitful concept: why, one could be in a hundred different places at once and experience everything the other clones did. I am amazed at the outcry against this good thing not only from men of the cloth but also from scientists, the very scientists whose patient research has brought cloning within our grasp. The very thought of a clone disturbs these gentlemen. Like cattle on the verge of stampede, they paw the ground mooin apprehensively. "Selfness is an essential fact of life. The thought of human nonselfness is terrifying."

Terrifying to whom? Speak for yourself, you timorous old beastie cowering in your eternal lavatory. Too many scientists seem to be ignorant of the most rudimentary spiritual concepts. They tend to be suspicious, bristly, paranoid-type people with huge egos they push around like some elephantiasis victim with his distended testicles in a wheelbarrow, terrified, no doubt, that some skulking ingrate-of-a-clone student will sneak into their very brains and steal their genius work. The unfairness of it brings tears to his eyes as he peers anxiously through his bifocals.

Cloning isn't ego gone berserk. On the contrary, cloning is the end of the ego. For the first time, the spirit of man will be able to separate itself from the human machine, to see it and use it as a machine. He is no longer identified with one special Me machine. The human organism has become an artifact he can use like a plane, a boat, or a space capsule.

The poet John Giorno wondered if maybe a clone of a clone of a clone would just phase out into white noise like copies of copies of tape. As Count Korzybski used to say: "I don't know, let's see."

But ultimately, I postulate, true immortality can be found only in space. Space exploration is the only goal worth striving for. Over the hills and far away. You will know your enemies by those who attempt to block your path. Vampiric monopolists would keep you in time like their cattle. "It's a good thing cows don't fly," they say with an evil chuckle. The evil, intelligent Slave Gods.

The gullible, confused, and stupid pose an equal threat owing to the obstructive potential of their vast numbers. I have an interesting slip in my scrapbook. News clipping from the Boulder Camera. Picture of an old woman with a death's-head, false teeth smile. She is speaking for the Women's Christian Temperance Union. "WE OPPOSE CHILD ABUSE, INTEMPERANCE, AND IMMORTALITY."

The way to immortality is in space, and Christianity is buried under slag heaps of dead dogma, sniveling prayers; and empty prayers must oppose immortality in space as the counterfeit always fears and hates the real thing. Resurgent Islam . . . born-again Christians . . . creeds outworn . . . excess baggage . . . 'raus 'mit!

Immortality is prolonged future, and the future of any artifact lies in the direction of increased flexibility capacity for change and ultimately mutation. Immortality may be seen as a by-product of function: "to shine in use." Mutation involves changes that are literally unimaginable from the perspective of the future mutant. Coldblooded, nondreaming creatures living in the comparatively weightless medium of water could not conceive of breathing air, dreaming, and experiencing the force of gravity as a basic fact of life. There will be new fears like the fear of falling, new pleasures, and new necessities. There are distinct advantages to living in a supportive medium like water. Mutation is not a matter of logical choices.

The human mutants must take a step into the unknown, a step that no human has taken before.

"We were the first that ever burst into that silent sea."

Recent dream research has turned up a wealth of data, but no one has assembled the pieces into a workable field theory.

By far the most significant discovery to emerge frm precise dream research with vounteer subjects is the fact that dreams are a biological necessity for all warm-blooded animals. Deprived of REM sleep, they show all the symptoms of sleeplessness no matter how much dreamless sleep they are allowed. Continued deprivation would result in death.

All dreams in male subjects, except nightmares, are accompanied by erection. No one has proffered an explanation. It is interesting to note that a male chipanzee who did finger and dab paintings, and was quite good too, went into a sexual frenzy during his creative acts.

Cold-blooded animals do not dream. All warm-blooded creatures including birds do dream.

John Dunne discovered that dreams contain references to future time as experienced by the dreamer. He published his findings in An Experiment with Time in 1924. Dream references, he points out, relate not to the event itself but to the time when the subject learns of the event. The dream refers to the future of the dreamer. He says that anybody who will write his dreams down over a period of time will turn up precognitive references. Dreams involve time travel. Does it follow then that time travel is a necessity?

I quote from an article summarizing the discoveries of Professor Michel Jouvet. Jouvet, using rapid eye movement techniques, has been able to detect dreaming in animals in the womb and even developing birds in the egg. He found that animals like calves and foals, who can fend for themselves immediately after birth, dream a lot in the womb and relatively little after that. Humans and kittens dream less in the womb and are unable to fend for themselves at birth.

He concluded that human babies could not walk or feed themselves until they had enough in practice in dreams. This indicates that the function of dreams is to train the being for future conditions. I postulate that the human artifact is biologically ddesigned for space travel. So human dreams can be seen as training for space conditions. Deprived of this vital link with our future in space, with no reason for living, we die.

Art serves the same function as dreams. Plato's Republic is a blueprint for a death camp. An alien invader, or a domestic elite, bent on conquest and extermination, could rapidly immobilize the earth by cutting dream lines, just the way we took care of the Indians. I quote from Black Elk Speaks by John Neihardt:

"The nation's hoop is broken and scattered like a ring of smoke. There is no center any more. The sacred tree is dead and all its birds are gone."