Nick Land

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Nick Land
Born (1962-01-17) 17 January 1962 (age 58)
NationalityBritish
EraContemporary philosophy
RegionWestern philosophy
SchoolContinental philosophy[1]
Accelerationism
Speculative realism
Dark Enlightenment
InstitutionsUniversity of Warwick
Main interests
Notable ideas
Accelerationism
Hyperstition

Nick Land (born 17 January 1962) is an English philosopher, short-story horror writer and blogger. He is known by some as "the father of accelerationism".[2]

His writings are "theory-fictions", a genre created by the philosopher Jean Baudrillard.[3] A cofounder of the 1990s collective Cybernetic Culture Research Unit (CCRU), his work has been tied to the development of accelerationism and speculative realism.[4][5][6]

Land is also known, along with fellow neo-reactionary thinker Curtis Yarvin, for developing in his latter works the anti-egalitarian and anti-democratic ideas behind neo-reaction and the Dark Enlightenment. His later work has become increasingly focused on advocating for scientific racism and eugenics, or what he calls "hyper-racism."[7][8]

Work[edit]

Land was a lecturer in Continental Philosophy at the University of Warwick from 1987 until his resignation in 1998.[3] At Warwick, he and Sadie Plant co-founded the Cybernetic Culture Research Unit (CCRU), an interdisciplinary research group described by philosopher Graham Harman as "a diverse group of thinkers who experimented in conceptual production by welding together a wide variety of sources: futurism, technoscience, philosophy, mysticism, numerology, complexity theory, and science fiction, among others".[9] During his time at Warwick, Land participated in Virtual Futures, a series of cyber-culture conferences. Virtual Futures 96 was advertised as “an anti-disciplinary event” and “a conference in the post-humanities”. One session involved Nick Land “lying on the ground, croaking into a mic”, recalls Robin Mackay, while Mackay played jungle records in the background."[10]

In 1992, he published The Thirst for Annihilation: Georges Bataille and Virulent Nihilism.[11] Land published an abundance of shorter texts, many in the 1990s during his time with the CCRU.[5] The majority of these articles were compiled in the retrospective collection Fanged Noumena: Collected Writings 1987-2007, published in 2011.

Land taught at the New Centre for Research & Practice until March 2017, when the Centre ended its relationship with him "following several tweets by Land this year in which he espoused intolerant opinions about Muslims and immigrants".[12]

Concepts and influence[edit]

Land's work with CCRU, as well as his pre-Dark Enlightenment writings, have all been influential to the political philosophy of accelerationism, an idea resembling that of the "fatal strategy" of "ecstasy" in the earlier work of Jean Baudrillard, where "a system is abolished only by pushing it into hyperlogic, by forcing it into an excessive practice which is equivalent to a brutal amortization". Along with the other members of CCRU, Land wove together ideas from the occult, cybernetics, science fiction, and poststructuralist philosophy to try to describe the phenomena of techno-capitalist acceleration.

One of Land's celebrated concepts is "hyperstition," a portmanteau of "superstition" and "hyper" that describes the action of successful ideas in the arena of culture.[13] Hyperstitions are ideas that, once "downloaded" into the cultural mainframe, engender apocalyptic positive feedback cycles. Hyperstitions – by their very existence as ideas – function causally to bring about their own reality. Nick Land describes hyperstition as "the experimental (techno-)science of self-fulfilling prophecies".[citation needed]

Land's Dark Enlightenment philosophy opposes egalitarianism, and is sometimes associated with the alt-right or other right-wing movements. Land believes democracy restricts accountability and freedom.[14] Shuja Haider notes, "His sequence of essays setting out its principles have become the foundation of the NRx canon."[13] Land insists, however, that “as a populist, and in significant ways anti-capitalist movement, the Alt-Right is a very different beast to NRx.”[15]

Land's current version of accelerationism incorporates explicitly racist views and since late 2016 has been increasingly recognised as an inspiration for the alt-right[16] and, according to Vox writer Dylan Matthews, for white supremacist mass murderers.[17]

Mark Fisher, a British cultural theorist and student of Land's, argued in 2011 that Land's greatest impact so far had been on music and art, rather than on philosophy. The musician Kode9, the artist Jake Chapman, and others studied with or describe their influence by Land, often highlighting Land's inhuman, "technilist," or "delirious" qualities. Fisher underscores in particular how Land's personality during the 1990s could catalyze changes in those engaging with his work though what Kodwo Eshun describes as a manner "immediately open, egalitarian, and absolutely unaffected by academic protocol" which could dramatise "theory as a geopolitico-historical epic."[5]

Bibliography[edit]

Books[edit]

  • Heidegger's 'Die Sprache im Gedicht' and the Cultivation of the Grapheme (PhD Thesis, University of Essex, 1987)
  • The Thirst For Annihilation: Georges Bataille and Virulent Nihilism (An Essay in Atheistic Religion) (London and New York: Routledge, 1992)
  • (w/ Keith Ansell-Pearson & Joseph A. McCahery) Machinic Postmodernism: Complexity, Technics and Regulation (SAGE Publications, 1996)
  • The Shanghai World Expo Guide 2010 (China Intercontinental Press, 2010)
  • Shanghai Basics (China Intercontinental Press, 2010)
  • Fanged Noumena: Collected Writings 1987-2007, ed. Robin Mackay and Ray Brassier (Urbanomic, 2011). ISBN 978-0-9553087-8-9
  • Calendric Dominion (Urbanatomy Electronic, 2013)
  • Suspended Animation (Urbanatomy Electronic, 2013)
  • Fission (Urbanomic, 2014)
  • Templexity: Disordered Loops through Shanghai Time (Urbanatomy Electronic, 2014)
  • Phyl-Undhu: Abstract Horror, Exterminator (Time Spiral Press, 2014)
  • Shanghai Times (Urbanatomy Electronic, 2014) ASIN B00IGKZPBA.
  • Dragon Tales: Glimpses of Chinese Culture (Urbanatomy Electronic, 2014) ASIN B00JNDHBGQ.
  • Xinjiang Horizons (Urbanatomy Electronic, 2014) ASIN B00JNDHDVY.
  • Chasm (Time Spiral Press, 2015) ASIN B019HBZ2Q4.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Fisher, Mark (2014) [2012]. "Terminator vs Avatar". In Mackay, Robin; Avanessian, Armen (eds.). #Accelerate: The Accelerationist Reader. pp. 341–2.
  2. ^ Beckett, Andy (11 May 2017). "Accelerationism: How a fringe philosophy predicted the future we live in". The Guardian.
  3. ^ a b Mackay, Robin (27 February 2013). "Nick Land – An Experiment in Inhumanism". Divus.
  4. ^ Robin Mackay and Armen Avanessian, 'Introduction' to #Accelerate: The Accelerationist Reader, (Falmouth: Urbanomic, 2014) pp.1-46
  5. ^ a b c Fisher, Mark (1 June 2011). "Nick Land: Mind Games". Dazed and Confused.
  6. ^ Land, Nick (2011). Fanged Noumena: Collected Writings 1987–2007. Introduction by Ray Brassier and Robin Mackay. Falmouth: Urbanomic. ISBN 978-0-9553087-8-9.
  7. ^ Topinka, Robert (14 October 2019). ""Back to a Past that Was Futuristic": The Alt-Right and the Uncanny Form of Racism". boundary 2. Retrieved 28 October 2019.
  8. ^ Burrows, Roger (2018). "Urban Futures and The Dark Enlightenment: A Brief Guide for the Perplexed". In Jacobs, Keith; Malpas, Jeff (eds.). Towards a Philosophy of the City: Interdisciplinary and Transcultural Perspectives. London: Rowman and Littlefield.
  9. ^ Harman, Graham (2011). The Speculative Turn: Continental Materialism and Realism. re.press. ISBN 978-0-9806683-4-6.
  10. ^ Beckett, Andy (11 May 2017). "Accelerationism: how a fringe philosophy predicted the future we live in". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 24 July 2019.
  11. ^ Wark, McKenzie (20 June 2017). "On Nick Land". Verso Books. Retrieved 14 July 2019.
  12. ^ "Statement on Nick Land". 29 March 2017. Retrieved 14 July 2019.
  13. ^ a b Haider, Shuja (28 March 2017). "The Darkness at the End of the Tunnel: Artificial Intelligence and Neoreaction". Viewpoint Magazine.
  14. ^ Matthews, Dylan (25 August 2016). "Alt-right explained". Vox.
  15. ^ Gray, Rosie (10 February 2017). "The Anti-Democracy Movement Influencing the Right". The Atlantic. Retrieved 16 August 2019.
  16. ^ Bacharach, Jacob (23 November 2016). "I Was a Teenage Nazi Wannabe". The New Republic. Retrieved 12 November 2019.
  17. ^ Beauchamp, Zack (18 November 2019). "Accelerationism: the obscure idea inspiring white supremacist killers around the world/". Vox. Retrieved 4 January 2020.

External links[edit]