Hyperstition, that word to left of this entry and just a little ways beneath the excessively stylized header, stands as a key term for this blog because each of us shares the belief in the power of belief, or more specifically, the power of the false, the not-necessarily-true, and lies, to govern coincidence in a way that makes fabula effective and real. In other words, we’re hyperstitious because it’s apparent that reality is capable of being changed in conformity with the will.
The term, however, is not ours. Nick Land is largely responsible for its coinage and for its common conceptualization as an inhuman, apocalyptic power from the future. In some sense, hyperstition is Land’s radicalization of Deleuze and Guattari’s analysis of capitalism which regards certain of the latter’s productive tendencies as evidence of an agency belonging to the system rather than those who are subject to it. Yet whereas Deleuze and Guattari are content to let the anomalous powers of capitalism remain ontologically indeterminate, Land interprets them in very literal ways to give his writings their distinctive fantastical and horrific flare. (See for example: “Meltdown.”) Basically, Land’s hyperstition is a methodological term that describes a form of “concept engineering” or idea wangling to account for the way things that are not necessarily true seem to have an effect on things in a way that perpetrates or conditions their own realization. In Land’s model reality is not a fixed object but a fluctuating environment of signs, affects, percepts, and behaviours that is continuously being designed, effected, and, more importantly, fought over. Something is therefore “hyperstitional” when causal links are made between a fiction’s semiotic field (which includes the special case of “art”) and the real’s effective terrain. This “fiction making itself real” can be understood as a form of classic occult causation, or, if you want to invoke Land’s terms, a case of cybernetic action wherein “reality” and “fiction” are both elements of a closed signaling loop that feeds change back into a system to regulate its constraints, potentials, and tolerances. (For Land, the “system” is no more than the productive pressure which matter’s self-differentiation produces in excess. Matter (material) is the process of individuation and synthesis, and thoughts (concept) are its effects, effects stripped of their transcendence.)
In this respect, hyperstition appears to be a type of formal or plexive causality that refers to the way effects implicate themselves within events to decline them away from expressing authorized—transcendentally coordinated—versions of reality. Things become hyperstitious when counterfactual propositions fold semiotic patterns and intensive regularities into a semblance of the real that is, while effectively virtual, indistinguishable from what it simulates. The consequences of this “verity swerve” are several, the least of which is that hyperstition confounds the categories of true/false, real/unreal. Perhaps what’s most interesting about the collapse of the distinction between the real/unreal is that postmodernism’s knee-jerk ontological skepticism is now the authorized response to hyperstition. Simulation is fact. The Real is fiction. But hyperstitions confound this formula because they don’t occasion a dispute—the absolute immanence of all transcendentals is prima facie. For the hyperstitious, the terms of debate have shifted to from substantiating the constructedness of the real to waging war over its invention. What this means is that hyperstitions leverage the “efficacy of the virtual” to re-version the real. Reality is not only plastic through and through, but everything about it folds into its expression, its process of self-differentiation. Writing, speaking, dancing, being bored, hesitating, forgetting, symbolizing, withdrawing, dying. Each of these acts executes a tendency that engineers what Land calls “zones of plexivity”—( ), (( ))), ((( )))))))))—where versions of the real compete to make a better crease.
Although every “thing” has an active function in the perplex of the real, only some things are sanctioned as operative. It all depends upon the tolerances of the current cultural Speculative Regime (ccSR)—the controlling system that commands the conjectural remit of any given version of reality. However, just because something is not sanctioned does not mean that it has no influence or lacks a measure of affect. For example, while the therapeutic efficacy of certain herbs that resemble the parts of the body (the “doctrine of signatures”) do not possess the overt correspondence between effects and signatures that would validate the reality of the doctrine, the mnemonic system that herbal signatures and discernable remedial effects produce cannot be denied. The curative signature of herbs has, then, an effect that produces changes in the real—the doctrine is a memory machine. But these effects are occulted, they are dissembled and rendered merely expressive of a “mnemonic device” for attributing which medical action corresponds with what herbs. The doctrine of signatures is a gateway through which modes of health may become real, and in this respect it is not a superstition but a hyperstition. It is a fiction whose speculations envisage a salubrious reality yet to come.
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If contemporary culture is no longer superstitious because it believes in the certainty of its own programming, then as it gains awareness of its mediated constitution it is now becoming actively hyperstitious. The social construction of reality is beginning to look less like a theoretical gambit and more like an ontological model. Perhaps where superstition functions as a technique used to seduce specific results from a reality believed to be unruly and, paradoxically, “already written,” hyperstition is a practice for, as Ccru puts it, “propagating escape routes” and “charting a flight from destiny” (LTW). As a technique, superstition, despite its occult causality, continues to endorse the claims of the ccSR because all that it evokes are possibilities, pre-established future paths that short circuits any attempt to escape the ccSR. But hyperstition has no truck with the ccSR. Results for the hyperstitious are not something to be endorsed, they are something to be achieved or accomplished, regardless of their ontological status. To be hyperstitious is, then, to believe in the reality of the impossible and to execute the invention of the unfathomable. Land invokes Lovecraft’s “Old Ones” to depict the degree of hypsersition’s relevant unfathomability. As an absolute exteriority whose nature is so alien and ancient, so outlandish and inexplicable, the Old Ones represent the conjectural limits of the ccSR and thereby escape, at least symbolically (which is not nothing), the latter’s powers of domestication. The point is that one cannot plot or reason one’s way out of the ccSR, for plot and reason, even so deviant a strain as Land’s, belong to its remit. The outcomes of tactical subversion, logically composed nonsense, or even some form of auto-extinction, are fated to reiterate the concerns of the ccSR. The only way out is to lie, to make the counterfactual effective.
Well…I’m not entirely certain about any of the above. I think, however, what matters is for hyperstition to be understood as the production of sense that Deleuze identifies as the boundary or surface between propositions and things, a metaphysical surface from which the various modes of relationality find their power to differentiate and thereby organize into realities. As sense, hyperstition is not peculiar, but where sense runs amok, where surfaces multiply exponentially as we’ve been taught has already happened, then the efficacy of the virtual is something that is being constantly leveraged to engineer all manner of realities, from the grand designs of “global terror” that mobilize affections such as dread to manage the expectations of large populations, to the unassuming busker who hopes for a moment to capture a single listener long enough to sympathize and attune his/her temporary local reality. Additionally, multiples of sense create time anomalies and future memories, for the surface which “turns one side toward things, and another side toward propositions” (Deleuze) describes a spiral of coincidences that bring distant surfaces into effective proximity. Lies, then, are not false so much as they are exemplars of hyper-sense. Lies make sense, and the sense they make cleaves fact and fiction to the same expression. But the latter (expression) is itself just the surface of another series of sense that manners its own relay of signs, affects, percepts, and behaviours into a potentially functional reality.
For The Occulture, hyperstitions locate senses that stick, or show the promise of sticking, of becoming realities that will have been versioned. Perhaps you could say that because The Occulture is interested in hyperstition, it’s in the business of making sense.
– eldritch Priest