Medievalism/Postness/Games/Schelling

08Feb11

Strip away the theological glow (leave the clouds and specters) and is medieval thought primarily that of the weirdness of  the inorganic? The chronological uprooting (present in the very term postmediaeval) nods to the medieval as a type of other worlding in various forms of nerdiness, particularly in games.

There is a twisted elemental mediaevalism at work in the back story of War Hammer 40k. The Necron are beings trapped in modies of living metal living in giant tomb worlds where the Orks are fungal-animal hybrids with all the tales rife with terran knights, crusades, and inquisitions. Lineal fantasies of specialness are corrupted by gene harvesting and cloning. The darkness of unfantastic fantasy meets the dystopian science-fictive. Everything in WH40K is post whatever it used to be. It may be too ridiculous to talk about a sick mediaevalism found in a role playing game but its there, its an  aesthetic.

Eileen Joy has a post here which is an interesting gloss on some relations between speculative realism and medievalism with some bits on post-humanism. In particular in focuses on texts and the challenge of SR as focusing on texts given its anti-textual nature. The question of using junk media is crossed with using anything textual at all given SR’s affinity for ‘the great outdoors.’ That is, how can any of us speculative types meander in texts and have textual aesthetics at all, if there is a ‘more real’ chaos teeming at the edge of the page?

Though part of the problem, one that bothered Schelling’s career, is of encompassing a large system and then applying it at all. Any application of the identity philosophy or naturephilsophie was seen as incomplete. Daniel Whistler’s contribution to After the Postsecular for instance ends with the following:

“And this, in consequence, is precisely what is required of twenty-first century speculative philosophies. They must dare to pursue nature into its most esoteric phenomena, leaving behind their comfort zones of Lovecraftian monsters and Okenian slime, so as to go after those products of nature that sit less easily with their ethos; those products, that is, which
contemporary speculative philosophies still need to incorporate so as to become genuinely unconditioned. We still await speculative accounts of the names of Allah and the words of the Nicene Creed.”

To equate ethos with personal interest, or aesthetic, is a move a bit too quick. And, the very essay quoted from above, states that it is a ‘regional application’ though regionality can be taken just as easily to be an ethos. But, the question and problem remains, naturephilosophie should account for the textual. Junk media, that of darkness living marines is itself an odd line of the textual – as source text for a game is a temporary crutch for the imaginary capacities of the gamer – itself weird. The inorganic feeds back on itself and through the circuit of the brain – the wood pulp and illusory creativity of the text creates a world which itself redirects small actions of players and manufactured bits.

The useful part, is the wormy connections by which nature tries to become an object to itself through thought.  Intentionalities and unintentionalities themselves intentionally and unintentionally produced and redirected through the manufacture of objects and practices of games. The fantasies of the posthuman break the the possibility of a humanness or separation from nature to begin with yet, at the same time, makes evident the games or ‘aesthetic problems’ that redirect or obscure the material relations that we are capable of causing and or changing.

In this sense, Schelling’s black cow night of the absolute is the problem of the interconnectedness of everything already obfuscated once put into either subject or object economies. It is also why becoming, why philosophies of becoming, have hardly seen their day in the sun as their investigators have always had too much of one hand in the subject realm.

Thinking itself is manufactured else and becomes what we would uncomfortably call inorganic, and lost in deep time and deep space. And out there one finds giant crypts where thought can find itself producing. Schelling’s valorization of the work of art is also that of media yet messier in its unintended effects – nature has an aesthetic problem – a problem which requires the weaponization of ethos, text, and trash (in media and otherwise).

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3 Responses to “Medievalism/Postness/Games/Schelling”

  1. The aesthetic of Warhammer 40k is very dark vitalism. That whole “look” has a techno-organic vibe deeply embedded in archetypes of apocalyptic sf, going back to Giger, et. al. Strangely, what I suddenly started thinking about here was the idea of “experience” — and it’s deep symbolism in RPGs and such. Maybe because the idea of “experience” to me seems related to current questions of relevance…


  1. 1 Medievalism/Postness/Games/Schelling (via Naught Thought) « Minimal ve Maksimal Yazılar
  2. 2 Accelerating Outwards: Land and Sci-Fi « Naught Thought

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