Nicht dieser Töne

I. 

What stands out the most about Grammarly, the style checker I’ve been using in hopes of writing intelligible text for the other thing, is its steadfast refusal to accept “Theory…” as an indeterminate object of discourse.

I’ve had, in casual conversation, many instances where theory is expected to be always transitive, and generally towards a specific hypothesis (“the theory that Polish jazz reflects a cerebral misunderstanding of its American sources”). On asemic horizon we say — everyone together now — theory is the theory of generic structure. Infinite recursion fixes the grammar (it is now “the theory” of something, namely “the theory of the theory…”). But it leaves much unsaid.

Despite all of its feverish juggling of neologisms (technical terms, each having a specific meaning), theory as practiced in asemic horizon is not an entirely new pursuit. We’re more inspired by Heino Engel’s Tragsysteme than by Adorno or Habermas; but it’s hard to deny their priority and their usefulness in making other people to understand what we mean by “theory”. I’d rather have you read Gilles Grelet, but what is he saying to an audience (even the freakish readership of asemic horizon) that isn’t in love with theory already?

The other thing is an attempt to communicate theory with “normies”. The risk of that venture is not being able to cleanly differentiate what K-Hole means by “acting basic” and “normcore” — roughly, the blend-in mimicry of leaf insects versus the outward movement towards “opportunities for strategic misunderstanding”. If theory is ever going to be valuable to normies, that’ll be because there are none. This is my standard case against incels and other such outcasts: STFU and dress normal. A beautiful paradox: there is no normalcy, just the ongoing awkwardness that makes us grab on the available equipment (and here we very literally mean what Heidegger means by das Zeug). This equipment produces an effect of tactical normalcy, itself an attempt to pro-duce (to bring into the world) the ambient conditions of prosocial connection.

II.

The other thing we have at times claimed theory to be is: a praxis of intelligibility. It’s ultimately this that motivates the other thing — I sprinkle it liberally with notions that I can get paid for this if I play my cards right (and maybe I can, that’s none of your business), but the unlimited freedom afforded by asemic horizon is paid in blood with a descent towards irrelevance. We’ve explored the ways in which this descent ultimately leads to the switcheroo (ultimate genericity translated to ultimate generality at the critical moment) and to General Axiology. 

Of course, the way out is through, but this is a very hard slog, and my repeated attempts to hang theory on some sort of formalism (SATPLAN, graph physics, Girardian logic) have produced more demands towards the formalism — this is like buying a clothesline and having to stand pulling on it until your shirts are dry. Theory only progresses by making little knots and little hooks — the points de capiton (faux lesbians, Crystal Castles, Misha the Bear, McKenosha yadda yadda). These have always had a calculated clickbait effect — I do want more readers; maybe these will have to come from the other thing — but they’re also fun and keep your spine straight as you fall down the great water slide that’s the genericity of genericities. 

III. 

Here’s a provocation: incels have a right to get laid. (I might have to freeze a definition that excludes people who have had sexual experience.)

The argument for this is twofold. First, incels have a right to get laid by whatever they imagine women to be (increasingly this takes a disturbing deantropic trend towards cartoons). Sex with imaginary women can be accomplished single-handedly, and for (physical, even) health reasons it’s often recommended (at least in the absence of real partners). The axiological trouble begins when real people are coerced in some fashion (deepfakes being a relatively nonviolent alternative to the old, worse ways) into pretend-playing to be imaginary women. Only then moral concerns come into play. This also neatly illustrates the difference between ethics and morality; inceldom is, to begin with, an ethical shortcoming. 

Second, incels have the right to get laid by real women — provided they’re able to connect with real women as such. “Consent” applies to a weaker formulation of this problem that we intend to sidestep altogether: forcing (or cajoling, blackmailing, etc) someone into sexual contact fundamentally disconnects you from them. The mystery of inceldom (particularly from the incel’s point of view) is that they can’t get women; but “getting women” means “being with women”. Seduction tricks are parlor tricks; attractiveness helps in seduction because sexuality can’t be unraveled from physical presence, but seduction is literally the subtractive counterpart of pro-duction — it means “to hide”. Typical incel blunders (at least as widely mocked on the internet) have to do with running directly into the attractive (and largely imaginary) thing, too much, too fast. “Negging” teaches them to do otherwise, but these people invariably overcorrect and miss their shot. Incels never really meet real women. 

The best advice for incels is, as above, STFU, dress normal. But this should recapitulate everything we’ve said about normalcy as a phenomenon of misinterpretation. Les non-dupes errent; what anyone wants is impossible; you misread it into them, they misread it into you. That’s how seduction works: you dress normal, then people misunderstand you.  Everyone is wrongly convinced that their ultimate value as humans lies in their agalma, but by virtue of feeling they don’t have much else to offer, incels are way too protective of the inner good person they think they are — and resent that others don’t see it. Thus the great virtue of attractiveness: people who are hot are able to signal their value in all sorts of ambiguous (and low-key) ways, while those who need to produce value-signaling effects that, paradoxically, hamper their ability to be ambiguous and get mismatches.

To be clear: this isn’t relationship advice. 

IV. 

Theory is seductive to the extent people misunderstand it. If I have to put forward a denunciation of, e.g. Austrian economics (which has happened), this loses some people. Of course, “just be more ambiguous” is about as useful as “just be more attractive”. There’s some constraints (the quability conditions of theory) that simply can’t be fucked with; and, of course, on asemic horizon you’re watching it happen live. Watching a nude wo/man taking showers over and over in a loop isn’t that erotic after a while. 

Going for “normies” in the other thing is a different affair. Dressing normal is challenging for a project that’s ultimately (however obscurely) revolutionary. There’s great sincerity in that project: we keep evoking Crystal Castles yadda yadda but theory needs a dozen Jairwaves to really emerge as a valuable pursuit in its own right. Everything that’s held to be valuable is already in/part of an axiological structure. And as much as we need to understand them, this process also has much to give back in terms of a clearer discernment of its structure, its dynamics, its tempo, diegesis, physics, scenarios…

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