I have always unconsciously sought out that which will beat me down to the ground, but the floor is also a wall.
– Nick Land, The Thirst for Annihilation: George Bataille and Virulent Nihilism, 1992
The attraction for me is remote: letting go of all craft and judgment, all reason and restraint, casting aside the distinctly human, in order to ride the primal forces surging up through the organism. For Land there’s no liberation here other than the liberation of the zero, of death. Going posthuman doesn’t mean achieving some sort of superhuman freedom and power: it’s posthumanity in the rawest sense of death and extinction. Humanity is a blight on the planet and an excruciating burden on the individual: the sooner it’s gotten rid of the better. Worldwide warfare might be the ultimate solution if it could shake itself loose from controlled rational discipline and just let it rip. For Land only an orgy of slaughter will do.
Presumably people who assert this sort of “virulent nihilism” never gain access to the levers of destruction, and one wonders whether they’re having too much fun talking about self-immolation actually to plunge in the knife. Surely there’s a puerile rhetorical thrill in writing and reading about the horror and the mayhem, the psychosis and the putrefaction, the collapse. Maybe Land’s book should be admired strictly as a worthy exemplar of a particular genre of philosophical writing instead of being given serious consideration as a way of living — or of dying.
If someone came to my practice wanting to “get different” in this particular way, would I help him? Would I encourage my client to cultivate full commitment to this particular form of extreme difference? Or would I try to dissuade and distract him? Again, maybe if I could reduce this posthuman impulse to an intellectual exercise, maybe even a personal lifestyle experiment: nothing serious, nothing he won’t grow out of eventually. Ride it hard, get some mileage out of it, have some fun, write a book about it while the energy lasts. After the surge exhausts itself maybe we can move on to something else…