Zuggtmoy/Juiblex Complex


From Wikipedia:

“Zuggtmoy rules the 222nd layer of the Abyss, officially called Shedaklah, although according to her creator Gary Gygax, it is called Mycorji. She shares this layer with Juiblex, the Faceless Lord. Also called the Slime Pits, Shedaklah is a duo-layer: its surface is overran by fungi and plant creatures while its underground corollary is infested with oozes and slimes.  It was with the efforts of Zuggtmoy’s lieutenant, Yibiyru, the Rancid Lady of Bitter Bile, that Juiblex didn’t conquer all of Shedaklah.”

Park of of the work of a dark vitalism is the sickening realization of such an image.  Steven Johnson’s Emergence begins with Toshiyuki Nakagaki’s work on slime molds in which he made one of the amoeba like creatures find a path through a maze towards a food.  The mindless functioning of life, of life moving towards goals without any form  of intelligence – creatures that function in a completely bottom up fashion.  The thought is ostensibly disheartening in that chance and coincidence surpass telos and destiny and yet, at the same time, if emergence is essentially pattern recognition the question becomes whether emergence is merely an objective or subjective category?  That is does emergence merely describe shifting pattern complexity or does emergence make a difference in an ontological or at least non-sensorial way?

To move into smaller ideas – the nightmarish microbial (vampire and zombie plagues, mind controlling parasites et cetera) which is tied to science fiction and horror realms easily suggests the temporal invasion of space by a dark vitalism.  The aforementioned graphic novel and game Dead Space aptly portrays such tiny monsters in its necromorphs – parasites which take control and zombify dead tissue – life forms that act as a disease – as an infectant – but in fact are another (conscious) life form which has no concern for the fragility of human being(s).

Uexkull’s protoplamsms participate in such horror in that the amoeba is a pure productivity moved by and caught in the pure productivity of nature.  The gap between the slime world and the fungus world is one of seemingly mechanized organization – that is the slime/ooze from which we came is not so unsetting since it appears (for us) as that matter which is waiting for potentiation whereas the slime mold, the fungus, appears as the same matter but active in its own regard.  This activity of course was no special event as nature was all along interpenetrating everything around us and us as well.

9 Responses to “Zuggtmoy/Juiblex Complex”

  1. Ben, perhaps you have seen this recent publication on the life and theories of Ernst Haeckel (inspired by Oken): ‘The Tragic Sense of Life: Ernst Haeckel and the Struggle over Evolutionary Thought’

    For the most part, the book remains a conservative study of Haeckel’s life in relation to his theories but it has a great deal of information on Naturphilosophie and the protoplasmic substratum.

    Another source book is ‘Romantic Conception of Life: Science and Philosophy in the Age of Goethe’

  2. And the “sickening realization of such an image” is also “no special event,” no? That would seem to be the equation urged by a “dead space” which only proves the impossibility of there being such thing (not to mention the darkly vital neutrinos generating in beta decay). As the language of the example of a slime mold in a maze would suggest (the *thought* of a bottom up function), I see no hope or reason for trying to decide emergence as either “merely an objective or subjective category.” Emergence is a phenomenon that like another has an inside and and outside. All the more so as the form proper to emergence (as Bachelard discusses in his chapter on shells) is something always partly in and partly out. Am totally out of my depth here and haven’t read anything on this subject, but it would seem that the shell structure is functionally mappable across just about everything, atoms to galaxies, that what emerges always takes an inside/outside shell structure. Even Shedaklah is a duo-layer. So also “mindless” life is a spectral projection of a mind gropingly in touch with the contours of its own blindness.

    • 3 Ben Woodard

      Hi Nicola,

      For me the issue of whether emergence is objective or subjective is connected to the task of removing the taint of anthrocentrism from science. That is, the issue is whether the difference made by emergentism (such as the activities of an ant colony) is an ontological category or even existence outside of human observation –basically what is the metaphysical purchase of a pattern?

      Your point about interior/exterior is well taken – the question becomes of the meaning of the interior of the emergence as something philosophizable/thinkable or not. We could say that the patter is exterior and only ever aesthetic or a surface effect but then the problem of the pattern’s interior comes into question.

      Also, I only just realized you are a fellow inhabitant of Brooklyn. Cheers.

  3. 4 kvond

    Excellent post (and wonderful comments), will be building something upon this, I hope.

  4. Ben,

    Thanks for the clarification of how you see the question. I habitually start from the assumption that subjectivity belongs to everything, that there is always a *here* there. But the problem totally remains, *what* is the pattern? We might try to think the relational intersection between the pattern and the emergence, the former being a perceptible through with the latter appears, preferably in a situation where we cannot hold anthropocentric models of local situations, somewhere where the separation of pattern and emergence seems essential, where they don’t talk to each other (no possibility of city planning). Here the example of the constellation is pretty interesting. What is the inside of a constellation? Or what is the relation between Brooklyn and two people living there without knowing the other does? There is a cool way in which this kind of gap is a real relation, the substance of the emergence, the event allowing the constellation to appear or a swarm to have a direction of its own. Our situation suggests that for there to be a Brooklyn, it is necessary that such a thing never exist, or exist only as traces of itself? what Levinas calls ‘the insertion of space in time’?



    • 6 Ben Woodard

      I’m still not sure how to think the relation of the pattern and emergence – emergence suggests a non-intentional behaviour or set of behaviors between already constituted objects (like ants in an ant colony). A pattern suggests a sensorially decided bound be placed on the moving objects which is recognizable. What is inside a constellation is a storm of indirect effects of the points – I think there is a discussed divide of ontological and epistemological emergence. What we could say about life is that its creation is ontological emergent or, at least, it is an identity and not a datum since we cannot say why life emerges but that once a life is classified as human, or monkey etc. we must question then what kind of differences are real or have real effects versus patterns which group movements via categories.

      I’m not really sure – this is something I’m trying to figure out.


  1. 1 Zuggtmoy: Demoness Ontology in Dark Vitalism « Frames /sing
  2. 2 The Zuggtmonic Drive: (Dark) Intelligence Without Center « Frames /sing
  3. 3 A Taxomomy of Evils and the Demoness Ontology of Powers in Vitalism « Frames /sing

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