‘Hyperstition: An Introduction’

Delphi Carstens Interviews Nick Land. 2009.

In the following interview Nick Land responds to some questions about the mechanisms of Hyperstition in the context of apocalypse.

Q1. I wonder if you could elaborate on what exactly is concealed … what will be revealed by apocalypse?

R1. What is concealed (the Occult) is an alien order of time, which betrays itself through ‘coincidences’, ‘synchronicities’ and similar indications of an intelligent arrangement of fate. An example is the cabbalistic pattern occulted in ordinary languages – a pattern that cannot emerge without eroding itself, since the generalized (human) understanding and deliberated usage of letter-clusters as numerical units would shut down the channel of ‘coincidence’ (alien information). It is only because people use words without numerizing them, that they remain open as conduits for something else. To dissolve the screen that hides such things (and by hiding them, enables them to continue), is to fuse with the source of the signal and liquidate the world.

Q2. Does writing about the apocalypse chase it back into the shadows/encode it more heavily … or does the act of investigating the apocalypse help to decode and actualise it?

R2. For theists, the former. For transcendental naturalists (such as hyperstitional cyberneticists), the latter.

Q3. Could you elaborate on the ‘hyperstitional endeavour’? Hyperstition is a key word in the lexicon of my thesis … I was wondering if you could break the term down into language that normal academics (such as my supervisor!) can understand. Hyperstition is the backbone or channel into which everything apocalyptic flows, but what exactly is it?

Could you define it? The way I understand it from the Catacomic is that it’s a meme or idea around which ideas/trajectories crystalise).

R3. Hyperstition is a positive feedback circuit including culture as a component. It can be defined as the experimental (techno-)science of self-fulfilling prophecies. Superstitions are merely false beliefs, but hyperstitions – by their very existence as ideas – function causally to bring about their own reality. Capitalist economics is extremely sensitive to hyperstition, where confidence acts as an effective tonic, and inversely. The (fictional) idea of Cyberspace contributed to the influx of investment that rapidly converted it into a technosocial reality.

Abrahamic Monotheism is also highly potent as a hyperstitional engine. By treating Jerusalem as a holy city with a special world-historic destiny, for example, it has ensured the cultural and political investment that makes this assertion into a truth. Hyperstition is thus able, under ‘favorable’ circumstances whose exact nature requires further investigation, to transmute lies into truths.

Hyperstition can thus be understood, on the side of the subject, as a nonlinear complication of epistemology, based upon the sensitivity of the object to its postulation (although this is quite distinct from the subjectivistic or postmodern stance that dissolves the independent reality of the object into cognitive or semiotic structures). The hyperstitional object is no mere figment of ‘social constuction’, but it is in a very real way ‘conjured’ into being by the approach taken to it.

Q4+5. In the Catacomic you also relate hyperstition to the ‘Old Ones’ – the Nommos … are these water spirits the avatars of communication technologies? I’m fascinated by your reference to Dogon/Voodoo/Shamanism/Magick … how do these archaic occult systems, which are so heavily coded and hidden, relate to the immense speeds and ultra-modernity implied by the term hyperstition? I’ve always been fascinated by archaic systems myself … they are the dark roots of modern technologies.

R4+5. John Carpenter’s In the Mouth of Madness includes the (approximate) line: “I thought I was making it up, but all the time they were telling me what to write.” ‘They’ are the Old Ones (explicitly), and this line operates at an extraordinary pitch of hyperstitional intensity. From the side of the human subject, ‘beliefs’ hyperstitionally condense into realities, but from the side of the hyperstitional object (the Old Ones), human intelligences are mere incubators through which intrusions are directed against the order of historical time. The archaic hint or suggestion is a germ or catalyst, retro-deposited out of the future along a path that historical consciousness perceives as technological progress.

Q6. Does hyperstition exist outside of time and how is it hidden? This is fascinating, particularly in relation to the apocalypse meme, which is not at all. How do the two terms relate?

R6. Time is the working in historical time of that which lies outside (but constructs itself through) historical time. Apocalypse closes the circuit.

Q7. How does hyperstition relate to capitalism as a force-field?

R7. Capitalism incarnates hyperstitional dynamics at an unprecedented and unsurpassable level of intensity, turning mundane economic ‘speculation’ into an effective world-historical force.

Q8. Can you say anything on the subject of fictionality – i.e. history and philosophy as fiction, and fiction as a more intensive actualisation of historical / scientific / technological / sociological potential?

R8.  Hyperstition is equipoised between fiction and technology, and it is this tension that puts the intensity into both, although the intensity of fiction owes everything to its potential (to catalyse hyperstitional ‘becomings’) rather than its actuality (which can be mere human expressivity).

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