The open heart of General Axiology

(This text has had its two sections swapped at the last moment. It’s possible that it’ll make no sense at first and you have to read it again. Welcome to asemic horizon!)

1. The open heart

This is not an essay about theory.

Anyone who might care can learn about how our Kehre came to happen, and how General Axiology came to be. Long story short: they came from theory. But theory is crouched, closed off in itself; it has, for example, learned a lot from politics while refusing to make an political statement of its own. Theory is a sponge: one capitalizes on it by squeezing it. But the main stuff of asemic horizon is General Axiology — no frothy liquid, but instead blinding light.

Authors are often advised to recharacterize difficult concepts in plain words. The best simple approximation I can make of General Axiology is consensus. But look, there’s a point to our involvement in theory: I can’t find any common expression (not even something like “the cessation of dukkha”) that enables us to zigzag around the very pitfalls that prevent us from seeing General Axiology for what it is — let alone strive for it.

Terms like “consensus” have at least three clear problems. First, they imply that the goal is already there (and the problem is just getting the parties to agree to it). Second, they suggest the goal is lossy: I must sacrifice some of what I want to get some of what I want — and so do you. Third, and most importantly: it assumes the goal doesn’t change. Consensuslike concepts have no provision for radical change (maybe originally we were quabbling about dissolving a commercial partnership but somehow we get married instead). Instead: General Axiology comes through genericity but after genericity; in General Axiology we are infinitely powerful and infinitely good; most importantly, in General Axiology, what I want is what you want, to the fullest extent.

Perhaps at this point General Axiology sounds something like “world peace”. But who knows to which extent war is intrinsically necessary to human thriving? Instead, it’s a concept of transcendence — at some point we called it “the switcheroo” — after a protracted dive into immanence, through the tunnel of abstractions upon abstractions, theory without end. It is quite opposite to meditation in this respect: it asks you to look away from the kind of direct access that tends to happen on the road to sainthood or during mathematical training. It asks you to hold your breath, recede from the scene, become invisible if possible. This is because direct access is always partial and our program is to emerge in glorious univocity on the other side.

These, of course, are just pretty words. The hard bone of this project is the suffocating dive through the tunnel of abstraction; the role of theory comes in dealing with this bone. But theory that becomes progressively colder and inaccessible does nothing to attract people to this tunnel. This becomes critical at some point: we need better and more abstract terms to restate our controversies until they become void, but we also need to restate our controversies — continually and with shifting goals until (but only at) the point where human civilization becomes rhizome, ginger roots proceeding in all directions in such a way that it can’t be destroyed at all; maybe more poetically, until we all become ocean.

0. The end

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It seems that the arc of asemic horizon is coming to a head. It’d leave more questions open than answered, but wasn’t that a defining characteristic of Theory as we set out to pursue?

To be sure: this isn’t an actual farewell. The wordpress.com service, bless its overpriced heart, has SEO’d the asemic-horizon.com domain to great extents (I actually show up on Google!), so this is effectively my platform — which may continue to publish text of the usual style, or fill with on-brand stuff. (Twitter, the quick-and-easy way to keep an off-brand going, has set some kind of flag on my account circa 2020 so that my engagement stats collapsed even as my follower counts steadily grew). But asemic horizon has a very low profile as is, in part because I’ve been reticent to let personas bleed into each other (having earned my calluses in the 90s internet, this is still a core instinct for me), but also because my writings are nearly incomprehensible.

These reasons are far from disjoint — asemic horizon trademark style is filled with countersignals — its obscurity and apparent (not cleanly encapsulated) complexity for the kind of practical conversations I’m supposed to be having about selling solutions; the cheeky, faux-clickbaiting resort we have made to juvenile sexual references (the bikini, sexy faux college-aged lesbians, the occasional epsilon-titillating header image… These are ways in which I might have spoiled what’s an entirely serious program with roadblocks small and large that make it difficult to present even to friends. These countersignals, I shouldn’t need to stress, were never about having fun. Jargon density came with the terrain; the bits that can perhaps come across as cringe-worthy were an integral part of drawing theory into its own thing.

From some theoretical (this word carries both the colloquial and technical meaning here) distance I can see how I’m overreacting now to things I’m as of may 2002 unable to own (in the way one has to own a hat). In different material circumstances I might have pressed this new persona as the new on-brand, hired a body language coach and exchanged my cheap (prescription) sunglasses for classic Ray-Bans. But as it is, I’m juggling a day job, three startups (two as a founder, one as an outside advisor) and co-parenting duties regarding a baby. And theory is distance, theory is waiting, theory is writing things to throw away, let the texture in the text guide your pen. I plainly don’t have much free time right now, let alone to sink into this off-brand project. At my age you have to swim towards the synergies, babe.

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