Thalassal Synthesis

Ameen Ahmed Abdel-Hadi Mettawa

Beginning with visions,

A. Colonized planets fall to Cultural Fugue [CF] when “socioeconomic pressures […] reach a point of technological recomplication and perturbation where the population completely destroys all life across the planetary surface.” Two events precede a planet’s becoming “a sudden flower of flame”: (1) a “swarm on General Info [GI],” the prosthetically implemented interplanetary intelligence apparatus which relays any information at the speed of “neural firing throughout a cubic-third-of-a-centimetre of brain material,” and (2) orbital presence of 360,000 Xlv spacecrafts (the only entities outside of GI, given their absolute hermeneutic impenetrability). Forces of human security, fearing CF extinction, prevent the actualization of a certain sexual synthesis, the virtuality of which had drawn near incomprehension and Xlv.1

B. “Perhaps just as Sadie Plant’s primordial oceanic feminism draws out both a past and a future for cyberfeminism, the oceans are a scrying tool into the future. Gender acceleration begins with a Thalassal upswelling, ‘a kind of mutant sea [invading] the land.’ (Plant 248-249) The primordial oceanic matrix rises with the acceleration of technocapital to consume human civilization, to consume masculinity, while the masculine sky becomes choked out by technocapital’s excess and waste. […] The ultimate result, as gender acceleration and acceleration as a whole reaches its ultimate intensity, is a return back to the ocean, back to a sexless, genderless slime swarmachine. The liberation of women comes with acceleration and the future, at the cost of widespread death, destruction, and chaos, and the liberation of women is unconditional, beyond control and beyond stopping.”2

C. “An explosion of chaotic weather within synthetic problem-solving rips through the last dreams of top-down prediction and control. Knowledge adds to the mess, and this is merely exponentiated by knowing what it does. […] Capital is machinic (non-instrumental) globalization-miniaturization scaling dilation: an automatizing nihilist vortex, neutralizing all values through commensuration to digitized commerce. […] Each part of the system encourages maximal sumptuous expenditure, whilst the system as a whole requires its inhibition. […] It assembles itself by charting and escaping the technical-neurochemical deficiency conditions for linear-progressive palaeodomination time, and discovers that the future as virtuality is accessible now, according to a mode of machinic adjacency that securitized social reality is compelled to repress.”3

which give themselves to us as both praxis and antipraxis, as both contemporary thought asymptotically approaching its Outside, pragmatically seeded toward a memetic topo-epistemological xenoforming (i.e. xenemic infection), and as the future breaking into the present, mediated by a visionary, the personologized intersection point of fluxes with peak futural affinity (i.e. xenemic invasion), respectively. Undecidably translocated in time and hyperstitionally fluctuating between infection and invasion as the virtual moves into the actual, vision demands of its querent a work of translation between submission and ascryption. The future is mapped to a present which it isn’t, configuring that present as the future it already was. This “production of cause from effect” brings us to and is brought to us “from beyond the edge of time itself.”4

Two vectors diagram our trajectory: (1) planetary climate change indexed by rising global mean sea level and atmospheric carbon dioxide presence, (2) capital understood as fundamentally deterritorializing at human scale. In what we will soon discover is a templexed ouroboros, we may provisionally locate one point as the deep past, “when we were all at sea,” before “species, sex, race, class […] meant anything at all.” Before geotraumatic repression organized the sea into the present hypersea of land biota, we inhabited and constituted “an endless geographic plane of micromeshing pulsing quanta, limitless webs of interacting blendings, leakings, mergings, weaving through ourselves, running rings around each other, heedless, needless, aimless, careless, thoughtless, amok. […] Free exchanges, microprocesses finely tuned, polymorphous transfers without regard for borders and boundaries. […] And then something occurred to us. The climate changed. We couldn't breathe. It grew terribly cold. Far too cold for us. Everything we touched was poisonous. Noxious seas and thin toxic airs flooded our oceanic zone. Some said we had brought it on ourselves, that all our activity had backfired, that we had destroyed our environment by an accident we had provoked.”5

Our aphotic ancestors migrated and mutated to live upon this toxic environment – land, becoming organized according to cyclical structures of axially fluctuated solar proximity (itself the result of a geotraumatic encounter with Theia, which birthed from its congealed ashes our moon). Humans came to call this time, and organized their productive and reproductive activities according to its repetitions. This “‘cyclical time’ – arising from changing seasonal occupations”6 allowed for the sedimentation of social codes, or imaginary constraints on (re)production correspondent with the material conditions of nature through which they were mediated (i.e. taboos). Within this “primitive territorial machine,” kinship delimited the circulation of value, allowing its movement through filiation and alliance: “Filiation is administrative and hierarchical, but alliance is political and economic, and expresses power insofar as it is not fused with the hierarchy and cannot be deduced from it, and the economy insofar as it is not identical with administration. Filiation and alliance are like the two forms of a primitive capital: fixed capital or filiative stock, and circulating capital or mobile blocks of debts.”7 Distinct primitive territorialities circulated value between themselves by producing alliances through the corporeal trade of women. This manner of making kin involved, at the level of social code, a territoriality imagining others as inversely corresponding to its existent self articulation: “Such organizations [of alliance] reproduce themselves culturally through shared myths articulated around basic dualities (day/night, sun/moon, up-river/down-river etc.). The function of these myths is to capture alterity within a system of rules, to provide it with an identity, and to exclude the possibility of the radically different.”8 Our survival, when we became humans cast into the vicissitudes of cyclical time, demanded a movement of goods which social overcoding would only acquiesce to through the construction of quasi-filiative “natural” bonds via alliance formations with others which we neutralized into ourselves.

Filiation later became abstractly centralized in the “barbarian despotic machine” as the state, which simultaneously allowed for a greater autonomization of value circulation by generalizing filiation as a link between subject and ruler, producing a “spiritualization in a supraterrestrial field that increasingly overcodes, forming a metaphysical system.”9 Such systems stood in the place of the taboos which governed the primitive territorial machine, allowing for the instrumentalization of value circulation while “preventing commodities from introducing the decoding of flows that alone would be ruinous to the system under consideration.”10 The state simultaneously unified territorial alliances into the conceptual filial line of a single despotic father or God, while artificially engineering inhibition of synthesis through constraints on commodification whenever this threatened to dissolve social codes.

Industrialization, a singularity which accelerated value production, and economic internationalization, which autonomized value circulation beyond the state-centered coding of the barbarian despotic machine, correspond to the initiation of the “‘linear time’ of urban, industrial organization.”11 This “civilized capitalist machine,” or technocapital, did not merely impact virtual and lived temporality at human scale, i.e. “time-sense in its technological conditioning, and […] time-measurement as a means of labour exploitation;”12 technocapital began to determine the structure of time at a planetary scale, introducing the anti-human telos of global climate change into the Earth’s temporality. As technocapital subsumed more of nature into its machinations of value production and circulation, this nature changed into one which promises no longer the yearly repetition of a cycle of death and rebirth, of sedentary sowing and harvesting, but an acceleration toward “the outer-time of Ummnu,” the end which lies within what could only retroactively and may never again be called the beginning. Linear time overtakes cyclical time at the level of planetary materiality, before folding when sea swallows land, “sinking out of chronicity.”13

Our moment is witness to the technological recomplication, Thalassal upswelling, and automatizing nihilist vortex of vision, while ultimate synthesis is perpetually inhibited by human security: “The disaster of world history is that capitalism was never the progressive unwinding of patrilineage through a series of generalized exploitative relations associated with a trans-cultural exogamy, leading to an uncontrollable eruption of feminine (i.e. migrant) alterity into the father's heartland, and thus to the emergence of a radical – or ethnically disruptive and post-patriarchal – synthesis. Instead, kinship and trade were systematically isolated from each other, so that the internationalization of the economy was coupled with an entrenchment of xenophobic (nationalistic) kinship practices, maintaining a concentration of political and economic power within an isolated and geographically sedentary ethnic stock.”14 Value is extracted from nonwhite space while securitized in white space, and the decoupling of kinship and trade permit white space’s inhabitants to tend toward racial endogamy. Value moves through borders while bodies are locked out.

Given the uneven distribution of the future, mapping vision demands sensitivity to breaches of this inhibition of synthesis, moments when technocapital outpaced securitization enough to manifest a signal of its Shoggothic telos, the “sexless, genderless slime swarmachine” to come. These moments collocate feminization and racialization, linking the productivity of women and nonwhites under technocapital to the reproduction of monstrosity.

First, the racialization of the prostitute, and the employment of the prostitute as a generic representation of working class women: “Marx’s use of the prostitute as the apocalyptic symbol of capital’s emergence points to his affinity with bourgeois discourses of the day. Both bourgeois ideologues and their radical opponents took the prostitute as the sign for the gendered and sexual chaos that commodification was bound to unleash. […] Nineteenth-century iconography used the image of Sarah Bartmann, popularly known as the Hottentot Venus, who was exhibited in freak shows throughout London, to link the figure of the prostitute to the alleged sexual savagery of black women and to install nonwhite sexuality as the axis upon which various notions of womanhood turned. […] Conflating the prostitute with the British working class inspired racial mythologies about the supposedly abnormal reproductive capacities and outcomes of that class. One tale suggested that the bodies of British working-class women could produce races heretofore unforeseen. One magistrate warned that if ‘empty casks were placed along the streets of Whitechapel,’ it would help spawn species of tub men who would wreak havoc on communities in Britain, creating the conditions by which ‘savages [would live] in the midst of civilization.’”15

Second, technocapital’s desire for surplus labor leading to the migration of racialized bodies into white space: “As [American] capital solicited Mexican, Asian, Asian American, and African American labor, it provided the material conditions that would ultimately disrupt the gender and sexual ideals upon which citizenship depended. The racialization of Mexican, Asian, Asian American, and African American labor as contrary to gender and sexual normativity positioned such labor outside the image of the American citizen. The state’s regulation of nonwhite gender and sexual practices through Americanization programs, vice commissions, residential segregation, and immigration exclusion attempted to press nonwhites into gender and sexual conformity despite the gender and sexual diversity of those racialized groups. That diversity was, in large part, the outcome of capital’s demand for labor.”16

As the Human Security System [HSS] comes to recognize that the technocapitalist machine which it instrumentalizes toward its racist, patriarchal siphoning of value unleashes powers of social decoding which threaten to eviscerate it, it begins a process of mass incarceration of racialized surplus labor and securitization of borders. Thalassal upswelling, as both symptom and vector of technocapital emerges as a crisis at the moment when this securitization inhibits the synthesis technocapital desires, producing the material conditions to push masses of climate refugees toward the borders of white space. The HSS recognizes that “a world without nations would in itself guarantee the achievement of all immediately post-capitalist social and economic goals,”17 and its response is the production of fortress states surrounded by concrete, without realizing concrete’s complicity with the sea: “The limestone, which […] is the main ingredient of modern concrete, is itself formed from organic marine life – the corals, shells, and algae of the warm and shallow seas, which once washed over the landscapes, which then fossilised and petrified to become limestone. So there was once a process of drying out, millions of years ago. And when water is now added to the mix of quarried, powdered, baked limestone to make cement, this desiccated stuff springs back to life.”18 The sea, in a conspiracy with technocapital toward the “unrestrained synthesis that springs from the theoretical and libidinal dissolution of national totality”19 has made the HSS forget that “concrete [is] wet, organic, and unstable.”20

The bodies of women and nonwhites conceal a liquidity akin to concrete: “The move to dry land is not an irreversible process. Deep amongst the body's tides, amphibian tendencies draw an organism to the hydral state from which it once emerged. ‘Seems that human folks has got a kind o' relation to the water beasts that everything alive came out o' the water once an'only needs a little change to go back again.’ (SOI, 145)”21 The filial line of the Deep Ones is commonly understood as manifest in miscegenation, most threateningly in nonwhites passing as white, discreetly infecting white bloodlines. And here kinship is found with the amphibious woman, internally concealing her templexed phylogeny: “The body carries within itself far more than its current evolutionary stage. Man's progress has told the story straight. Starting at zero: bacteria, algae, fish, amphibian, reptile, bird, mammal. But woman does not belong to this progress. Hers is not the same time, not the same temporality, not the same zero. She lies back on the continuum.”22 The zero of our filiative line, the zero of the Deep Ones, is the “positive zero – or 'the matrix' –[which] individuates a secondary, re-productive process that represses the conditions of its emergence in order to enter into the world of representation and recognition.”23 Like concrete, this zero camouflages its liquidity, hides that it “dissolves binaries, dis-associates, mutates existing structures, and generates the completely new.”24

Disinhibition of synthesis, or “the emancipation of material forces[,] corresponds to the emancipation of zero as the irruption of the utterly novel – first disguised as something else.”25 The ocean, now mutated by technocapital, provides the material substrate through which racialization and feminization conspire. Border walls reveal themselves as dams, erected to prevent the corporealized sea from flooding in, from creating the synthetic bloodstream which will reappropriate value, diffusing it beyond its white enclaves. A sudden flower of flame may incinerate dryware, but there is liquidarity in the depths. When waters merge, they cannot be separated. And as below so above, the identity of Thalassa and exogamy.26

  1. Delany, Samuel R. Stars in my Pocket Like Grains of Sand. 1984. 

  2. n1x. “Gender Acceleration: A Black Paper.” 2018. 

  3. Land, Nick. “Meltdown.” 1997. 

  4. Cross, Yves. “The Temporality of Ascryption.” 2016. 

  5. Plant, Sadie. Zeroes + Ones: Digital Women and the New Technoculture. 1997. 

  6. Thompson, E.P. “Time, Work-Discipline, and Industrial Capitalism.” 1967. 

  7. Deleuze, Gilles and Felix Guattari. Anti-Oedipus. 1972. 

  8. Land, Nick. “Kant, Capital, and the Prohibition of Incest.” 1988. 

  9. Deleuze, Gilles and Felix Guattari. Anti-Oedipus. 1972. 

  10. Ibid. 

  11. Thompson, E.P. “Time, Work-Discipline, and Industrial Capitalism.” 1967. 

  12. Ibid. 

  13. Land, Nick. “Occultures.” 1999. 

  14. Land, Nick. “Kant, Capital, and the Prohibition of Incest.” 1988. 

  15. Ferguson, Roderick. Aberrations in Black. 2003. 

  16. Ibid. 

  17. Land, Nick. “Kant, Capital, and the Prohibition of Incest.” 1988. 

  18. Plant, Sadie. “Between Shit and Architecture.” 2016. 

  19. Land, Nick. “Kant, Capital, and the Prohibition of Incest.” 1988. 

  20. Plant, Sadie. “Between Shit and Architecture.” 2016. 

  21. Livingstone, Suzanne, Luciana Parisi and Anna Greenspan. “Amphibious Maidens.” 1998. 

  22. Ibid. 

  23. Ireland, Amy. “Scrap Metal and Fabric: Weaving as Temporal Technology.” 2018. 

  24. Ibid. 

  25. Ibid. 

  26. ((::))(:)(:) 

Ameen Ahmed Abdel-Hadi Mettawa is an independent researcher based in Madrid, Spain. They are a member of the ritual traqueteo collective RALLIZE.