[NetBehaviour] Accelerationism

erik zepka xoxoxcom at gmail.com
Sat Apr 30 02:37:08 CEST 2016

I want to reply to this and Gretta's message that preceded it in a manner
that mediates the two perspectives.  In this way, perhaps we could talk
about something like a dilettante accelerationism, but I will look a little
outside this to what I might term a genealogy of the accelerationist, that
flavours particular types of epistemology, to arrive at a kind of
dilettante scientist.

What is a genealogy of accelerationism?  Foucault might have it that in
knowing the preconditions of a given episteme, we could talk about its
discourses (like this one) and how, instead of being a question of what you
know about a given topic it concerns why this topic tends to envelop
sociological possibility - not epistemology but a set of discourses that
prenecessitate a given epistemology.    Knowing technology, technology and
knowing, technocapitalism and the saturation of objects to the point of a
sociological inability to not be concerned with it.  I'm often struck with
how an author like Ben Noys - a card-carrying anti-accelerationist - for me
touches on so many of the same issues that I find timely about
accelerationism.  It's possible that a proper genealogy is done when an
opinion and its disagreement yield the same contextual description - that
is, oppose it or agree with it, you are admitting the same preconditions
(or in a scientific or logical format, axioms and assumptions).

Rob made the point that critics of accelerationism often call for
accelerationism - from a perspective interested in genealogical axioms, we
might say they are arguing from the same point (and are sociologically
predisposed to the same circumstances etc).  Not only does this say that
the perspectives are generic, but it says that they are conditioned forms
of knowledge.  That is, to highlight the knowledge-forms that are
accelerationist ones, vs ones that might relatively escape that episteme.
To contrast this with what Williams (
http://www.e-flux.com/journal/escape-velocities/) terms Negarestani's and
Brassier's "epistemic accelerationism", there the idea is in "maximizing
rational capacity", or advocating a type of knowledge based on
accelerationist precepts, whereas here there is an epistemic foregrounding
of any accelerationist-oriented rationalism or knowledge-system whatever
(which no doubt will overlap in its instances).  What they have in common
is the exploration of an epistemic mirroring of acceleration (vs say an
economic one) which makes my basic point here similarly.

So then what is epistemic acceleration in the context of genealogy?  It is
arguably precisely the dilettantism that constitutes generic perspectives.
If genealogy argues from a common grounding out of which particular
perspectives may arise, then dilettantism speaks to that genericness in
contrast to the expertise that would form particular branches of
knowledge.  In this way the preconditions of acceleration, an ungrounding
of its territory, leads us to the amateur's world of non-expertise, and
that compatibility might suggest a fruitful coalition between the
perspectives.  And in a particular point, I think what a dilettantist
epistemologist might say to the increased danger of their knowing of
another's field like biology, is that perhaps their general
transdisciplinary perspective is a better categorical context from which to
understand the subject - that is, I agree that no one fully understands a
given area of say environmental chemistry and that people need to work to
do so, the question is what kind of work, from what perspective and by

While the institutional chemist may have greater particular knowledge but
lose ideas outside the delimited precision of a research scope, the amateur
may have a broad, spotty and superficial knowledge.  It seems to me clear
that best move in terms of knowledge is to take as much from both
perspectives as possible to cohere a wider consensus of objective
approximation (that is, pro-dilettante not in the sense of let's only let
amateurs do things, a weird utopia of everyone engaging in anything but
what they know best (in which ur bio art point Alan I think stands as a
good one), but rather always being in the conversation and allowing that
broader counterpoint to qualify and correct expert views).  And finally,
maybe what at least part of the surge branded around the term acceleration
is about is a general condition of concern within our episteme, whatever
name might be given to it.

On Mon, Apr 25, 2016 at 4:17 AM, Alan Sondheim <sondheim at panix.com> wrote:

> I worry about dilettantes as much as master, for example people working in
> bioart potentially releasing organisms into the environment without
> understanding the chemical flows of biomes and organisms (no one
> understands all of this today!). One of the things I've learned to respect
> is the hardness of science; I'm interested in the foundations of math for
> example and since category theory and its offspring have flourished, I feel
> lost, and lost for good reason - these things are complicated and require a
> lot of study and commitment. So the dilettante worries me as well...
> - Alan, but yes !
> On Mon, 25 Apr 2016, Gretta Louw wrote:
> Oh, and let's revive the dilettantes! No more supposed experts, would-be
>> 'masters'. Surely no one who uses this language - even in relation to
>> ostensibly abstract problems or inanimate matter - has read and understood
>> anything about intersectional feminism, digital colonialism and the corrupt
>> power structures that permeate every aspect of human 'progress'.
>> Let's have the *delight* in (self/personal) discovery, knowledge,
>> exchange, exploration, and the humility of non-experts joining fields of
>> knowledge, bridging gaps, applying so-called expert knowledge. Marion
>> Schwehr (German literature and media scholar) and I are working on a new
>> lecture performance loosely titled 'Dilettantes Unite!', which I am
>> beginning to think will include a critique of
>> accelerationalist/neo-liberalist notions of mastery...
>> Sent from the road
>> On 25 Apr 2016, at 07:52, Gretta Louw <gretta.elise.louw at gmail.com>
>>> wrote:
>>> Death to the ludicrous, imperialist notion of 'mastery'!
>>> I lean more towards Alan's thoughts on the role/impact of humans but
>>> think that this is probably besides the point because, yes, we are all
>>> heading towards an end and a new beginning and more ends anyway. I'm the
>>> meantime, though, this idea of 'mastery' - the belief that anything
>>> approaching it is even possible - seems to be at the heart of the majority
>>> of suffering; that which we cause ourselves (humans) internationally,
>>> inter-culturally, locally, personally, psychologically, but also the damage
>>> that we inflict on environments and other species. This is where
>>> #additivism is inflential: embrace the abyss; surrender rescue/savior
>>> fantasies; find the best and weirdest thing to do in the meantime. Queer
>>> everything.
>>> g.
>>> Sent from the road
>>> On 25 Apr 2016, at 03:01, John Hopkins <chazhop at gmail.com> wrote:
>>>> "21. We declare that only a Promethean politics of maximal mastery over
>>>>> society and its environment is capable of either dealing with global
>>>> ...snip...
>>>> it discovers only in the course of its acting, in a politics of
>>>>> geosocial
>>>>> artistry and cunning rationality. A form of abductive experimentation
>>>>> that
>>>>> seeks the best means to act in a complex world."
>>>> Good excerpt -- I couldn't manage the patience to drive through that
>>>> whole manifesto -- I feel the answers do not need such bloviating -- &
>>>> anyway, I've got to work on my water-harvesting landscaping, prune my grape
>>>> vines, and turn my worm farm :-)
>>>> What is said there, I've been writing into a practice-based curriculum
>>>> at http://ecosa.org -- the idea of systems-thinking approaches to
>>>> holistic un-mastery of the biosphere that we are merely transitory parts
>>>> of. I fundamentally do not like the concept of design, though, as it
>>>> pre-supposes changing that which flows around us. Maybe an adaptive,
>>>> consciousness-raised going-with-the-flow ... sensual improvisation that
>>>> would include, perhaps, the removal of our selves from living viability. If
>>>> this approach was wide-scale enough, the population drop would start the
>>>> process of a post-human re-balancing of the planet's dynamic equilibrium.
>>>> jh
>>>> --
>>>> ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
>>>> Dr. John Hopkins, BSc, MFA, PhD
>>>> grounded on a granite batholith
>>>> twitter: @neoscenes
>>>> http://tech-no-mad.net/blog/
>>>> ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
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> ==
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