Parsanis exhumation of the gothic

Posted by Aspasia Stephanou on May 08, 2009 in Blog tagged with

Reza Negarestani’s Cyclonopedia is a theoretical-fictional account of the Middle East, horror, War on Terror, archaeology, petroleum, the occult, deleuzoguattarian concepts, schizophrenic theories, and apocalyptic philosophy. Nick Land warns western readers to “expect their peculiarly schizoid condition to be ‘butchered open’ by this work. Consider a grotesquely reductive, violent, comic yet still suggestive thesis: Islam is to Negarestani what Marxism is to Bataille. […] Read Negarestani, and pray.” And China Miéville describes the book as “post-genre horror, apocalypse theology and the philosophy of oil, crossbred into a new and necessary codex.”


The book opens with the adventures of an American woman in Instabul, and the discovery of a manuscript dispersed with schizophrenic notes by Iranian archaeologist Dr. Hamid Parsani. Parsani’s Middle East is a living cosmos and oil a “lubricant, something that eases narration and the whole dynamism toward the desert…to grasp oil as a lube is to grasp earth as a body of different narrations being moved forward by oil. In a nutshell, oil is a lube for the divergent lines of terrestrial narration…Oil as cybergothic convergence-demonic/technomic lube; – oil cult:..Petro-Masonism…” (19). And oil as blood, the existence of porphyrin in blood and oil…the “assumption that blood is the price of oil-can only be grounded on the impoverishing theory of finite fossil fuels or the production of oil from organic matter” (26).


Taking Lovecraft’s description of “horrid life” and “great holes” from The Festival, Negarestani develops his discussion on the earth’s holes and surfaces, of the entity of the soil and its void. He writes that, “in pulp-horror fictions and cinema, and in Lovecraft’s fiction, it is the abode of the Old Ones, worm-entities and the blob (petroleum) that

surpasses even tentacle-headed monstrosities in sentience and foreighness” (49). Exhumation is done by rats in Lovecraftian cosmology and rats are “exhuming machines” a “warfare of vibration” (52-3). Rats create holes, voids in solid spaces, anomalies that are related to paranoia and schizophrenia. This connected to nomadism and oil fields, militarization of oil and war machines creates an architecture of political exegesis of the Middle East that invests the earth’s body with occult meaning and where passages are penetrated with holes, …“oozing pores” for the return of the Old Ones. (67). 


And there is a chapter on the “Dead Mother of all Contagions”, dust.  Parsani comes from “a culture for which death is not only ossified but also pulverized into a gray powder, an abominable dust which then attracts cosmic wetness and moisture in order to make a necrophilic mess” (87). Dust is nomadic, it is rebellious, it is the Middle East. A degeneration that multiplies its self, it is contagious and mobile. Parsani in a gothic fashion writes that, “flesh is a dust necropolis which is constantly refreshed by wetness, a necropolis full of cursed cemeteries, vaults of anonymous materials from the outside, crypts and restless things” (94).  The Middle East is this “never-ending dust plateau- [and] through its conscious and concrete approach to dust imparts a new politics and ethics to the once western industrial-capitalist cry of ‘Something for the Masses’ (96). Here the Middle East and its collective dust are set against western warmachines and  petropolitics. And the war on terror requires a revolution and transformation in order to adopt itself to the new conditions in the desert and of dust.



Degeneration of the whole- the living entity of the Middle East is based on “anti-creationist creativity of perversion: Decay” (181).  The Middle East is an undead  machine and its modus vivendi is decay. For Parsani, “the corpse of a political system is in fact its actual body (summa actualis), whose chemical potentials are limitless” (184). And this decay along with creation is presented through the figure of Ahriman, the Persian demon that creates legions out of his butchered body, his blood and meat.  In the Middle East gods find enjoyment in their corpses, “they can copulate and contaminate” (205). Negarestani refers to E. Elias Merhige’s horror film Begotten (1991), in which a God is butchering himself, -a becoming corpse- in order to be a protagonist. This openness is fundamental of the middle-eastern tradition, of survival through paranoia, of survival through a necrophilic chaos that creates a plane of being radically open…tamam shud


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