MALIGN VELOCITIES by Benjamin Noys is a recent work on the subject of accelerationism, a notion whose general thrust is that, in order to achieve the goals of revolution, capitalism should be unchained, turbo-charged, and driven to its natural conclusion so that it explodes and dies. Noys provides an extremely thorough historical context for the idea, and it’s a fascinating deep dive. I lingered on a wonderful bit about the Italian Futurists, which lead me into some memory-refreshment on the Vorticists. There are times, in the early part of the book, where it feels like Noys has some score-settling to do, but it quickly becomes a superb and largely non-technical exp;loration of a very interesting space. For me, it didn’t sustain towards the end, with a Freudian seizure of a chapter on “anal capitalism” and a tangled final statement, but everything up to that was marvellous.
Accelerationism is, for me, worth studying briefly, as it seems to me to be a response to pervasive capitalism brought on by the mental illnesses that capitalism has induced in people. (Schizophrenia is talked about, a lot, e.g. “in Nietzsche’s ‘schizo’ delirium he announced ‘I am all the names of history’”) Noys himself calls them “the fetishists of capital” at one point, but I have a feeling, and Noys often implies, that it’s a deeper malaise.
Capitalism is lately cast as that Lovecraftian force that some people should not look directly at for fear of going completely mad and being banged up in the Arkham Sanitarium. Maybe meditating upon it as some Dark God From Beyond Space that is crushing the world into new shapes just leads some people to rub their mouths on it and plead for it to go faster. And never stop.
(Also: accelerationism, like speculative realism and its surrounding notions, kind of strikes me as Science Fiction Condition philosophical enterprise. its roots may indeed go back to the 19th Century, but the modern conception is something else.)
(originally written 2 Jan 2015, recovered from morning.computer)