Parallax Optics and Apostate Gallery (part 2)
A voice from beyond the cyberveil, won't stop talking...
Velcome to Part 2 of my interview with Parallax Optics, in which we get further into the weeds concerning the Moldbug / Yarvin split, what’s really going on with T777’s InstaThot selfies, and specifics regarding Apostate’s plans for CAW domination via an exhibition program spanning Mudsharking Requiems to insect specimen hunting…
I believe Land is one of the most important thinkers of our era, and I particularly like the way he (and Moldbug) have repurposed the concept of “Accelerationism.” How would you define Landian Acceleration? How about “Neoreaction?” Do you think these concepts have anymore political and intellectual capital in a post-Trump world? Do you think they are still viable and can still be used when considering the political and cultural future of the West?
This question is difficult to answer because the framing is somewhat confused / misconceived. Accelerationism is fundamentally a Landian thing / concern and not a Moldbugian one. Moldbug was always highly sceptical / dismissive concerning the prospect of any kind of AI Singularity, let alone a Landian techonomic Singularity — the point at which Capital as hyper-networked planetary intelligence / AI develops the capacity for hyperbolic recursive self-improvement — which is precisely the phenomena Accelerationism anticipates, tracks and critically interrogates. Of course, Land goes much further than other Singularitarians and conceptualises this process in reverse via twisted time-spirals to conjure an image of Capital / AI reaching back from the future to assemble itself.
Here is a short 2007 post by Moldbug on The Antisingularity. Here is a much longer 2022 one by Yarvin called Do Not Punch Rationalists and here is a short follow up explicitly concerning The Diminishing Returns of Intelligence in which we can see Yarvin’s AI sceptic position hasn’t really changed, only hardened.
While Do Not Punch Rationalists is ostensibly an attack on AI fixated ‘rationalists’ such as Less Wrong founder Eliezer Yudkowski, I also read it as a crypto-ATTAK on Land. I find it distinctly strange that Moldbug / Yarvin has never explicitly engaged with Land’s appropriation — and accelerarationist subversion — of some of his core ideas. In particular, his hypothetical schema for a reactionary system Reboot resulting in a Patchwork of autonomous sovereign zones structured and run as joint-stockholder corporations.
Writing as Yarvin on Grey Mirror, he has increasingly moved away from his / Moldbug’s earlier Unqualified Reservations era neocameralism / Patchwork market-based-manifold-sovereign alternative to the current System / GAE — in the significantly more conventional direction of a monarchical / strongman System-takeover (although UR also explored these possibilities / options concurrently). In contrast, Land has remained an unceasingly enthusiastic advocate of Moldbug’s Patchwork model of market-based sovereign multiplicity to ensure regime plurality. This is because Patchwork enlists the productive forces of techonomic competition / selection pressure, which would avert the entropic sinkhole / monkey-trap of OWG.
When you interviewed Yarvin, he was very kind to apologise to me for never having completed an interview I sent him 2 years or so ago. But I was a bit frustrated at his stated reason, which portrayed me as some kind of terminally gossip obsessed NRx ‘it girl’ consumed with a preoccupation with “who fucked who” scene based trivia. Yarvin is probably at least 2SD smarter than I am, but this wasn’t a particularly fair representation of the interview, which primarily sought to elicit his views on how NRx theory unfolded while he was on sabbatical at Urbit. Now, I understand that some of the people involved are ‘toxic’ and it doesn’t necessarily suit his current strategic aims, writing as a facefag to persuade openminded progressive / technocratic elites, to be openly associated with them / their ideas. Even, or perhaps especially, when some of their more bluntly articulated ideas were inspired by / derived from — or evolved in opposition to — his writing at UR, which in comparison was often cryptic, labyrinthine and cloaked in delicious irony.
However, this doesn’t really apply to Land, who remains highly influential in certain enclaves of the academic / creative elite and who’s always couched his heresies in an assiduously polite, if inhumanly cold and hyper-compressed, verbal veneer — even at their most abstrusely scathing / eviscerating. So, Yarvin’s refusal to discuss Land’s influence over what became NRx, or directly address his ‘quibbles’ with Grey Mirror’s increasingly monarchic schema — or even speak his name out loud — remains frustrating. In particular, to a gossip obsessed NRx it girl like me 💅
One point where there is an interesting overlap / conceptual coincidence between ACC and UR is AAC’s insistence on Anti-praxis — the inherent fatalism of “letting go” of your sense of agency / attachment to praxis within a system / deterministic reality placing you - such as ‘you’ even exist - on a predetermined energetic fate-line — and UR’s unequivocal advocacy of Passivism as an apolitical-political strategy. In essence, Passivism is the mind-hack of relinquishing all desire for / claim upon power in order to “become worthy” — like a Zen monk — so that power flows / defaults to you. It’s a strategy not to seize power, but to accept power — only to subsequently relinquish power once the Reboot is completed, in order to avoid contaminating the structure you’re engineering with artefacts of what you’re replacing or your process of replacing it.
The way I remember it, NRx and ACC didn’t draw conceptual inspiration, energy or relevance from Trump’s election or presidency. In fact, Trump’s ascent to the Oval Office was deleterious to NRx because people, like chimps, are drawn to power — including the pseudo-power of the Potus — and the energy of the 2015/16 moment meant that the blogs NRx emerged out of quickly got overrun by / subsumed into the much larger ‘Alt-right’ ‘movement’.
The people that flooded in — and the overarching political context in which the blogs were operating / being interpreted — were much more conventional + nationalistic in their take on politics and the nature of their desired political solutions. This led first to the confusion / conflation of NRx with the Alt-right, when it was really its own thing. In particular, when NRx ideas started getting (mis)represented via more mainstream / enemy controlled media institutions, both as obvious hit pieces and inchoate attempts to understand / interpret what was going on.
Second, it increasingly led to the Alt-right’s co-option of NRx via a dilution of its online discourse-space, with a huge influx of warm bodied mammals, who were insufficiently cold / disillusioned with conventional politics / activist measures and believed in precisely the surface level political illusions NRx sought to critique / dispel.
NRx was never really a movement, certainly not in a politically ‘activist’ sense. It was an elitist critique of Power conducted via a constellation of loosely interconnected blogs, comments sections, and private forums, which used Moldbug’s pathbreaking concepts to undertake serious political analysis and perform a critique / object-level analysis of power — much as academics (with delicious irony) used Foucault’s concepts to critique power from within the system / Cathedral.
NRx and ACC are both systems of critique, which provide a way of understanding reality via a conceptual arsenal / theory tool kit. As such, they can fall in and out of fashion but they can’t die in the same way as a praxis focused, temporally contingent activist movement, which exists as a specific means to achieve a specific ends at a specific moment in a specific historical context. However, most if not all of the original blogs that were the lifeblood of NRx and/or ACC have gone cold. Many of the characters originally involved have moved on / forward and either reinvented themselves online or have chosen to focus on IrL renumeration / status games. Others just burned out. This is entirely to be expected, in particular with regards to theory undertaken outside the academy, which lacks a status / funding authority-structure to inhabit / survive off.
Anons contribute what they have to contribute and then they burn out or move on… but their contributions live on. It’s ridiculous for reactionaries — of all people — to complain that a concept from a decade ago has lost all currency and is dead simply because it's fallen out of fashion. Reactionary realists should judge concepts according to their purchase on reality / truth-value and not on retweets or engagement statistics. Are we not frustrated elitists in exile, after all?
Would you care to compare and contrast Yarvin to Moldbug? Do you think Yarvin is still politically relevant and still has fresh ideas? Personally, I do, however he’s gotten quite a lot of pushback over the last year on several fronts. While I disagree with a take here and there, and while some of his most recent essays aren’t quite as cutting edge as his older work, he has enough on his blog for me to still consider him one of our most sophisticated political thinkers, in fact one of 2 or 3 relevant commentators in a sea of sycophancy and platitudes.
Moldbug is possessed by genius. He’s one of the most prescient political thinkers of the new millennium. In fact, he’s become a victim of his own success, since it’s incredibly difficult for people who are only now discovering his ideas via Grey Mirror — or even frogs who discovered Unqualified Reservations in 2016 — to really appreciate just how brilliantly out of alignment UR was with the rest of what passed for political theory circa 2007—2010. Let alone fully comprehend / mentally reconstruct the seismic impact Moldbug almost singlehandedly spearheaded on right-wing political thinking / discourse, which now resonates throughout the fringes of the mainstream.
Of course, this goes to the core of what it is to be influential. As they are copied, echoed and repeated, ideas lose their novelty / shock value and are increasingly assimilated into the fabric of mainstream political thinking / discourse + at a certain level of resolution become integrated with it.
Moldbug had certain advantages over Yarvin. For one thing, he was writing pseudonymously, in a considerably cooler political climate, which is disinhibiting and facilitates a certain laissez-faire attitude speaking truth to power and avoids things getting too Straussian. For another, even if his ideas weren’t entirely novel and were developed out of an incredibly creative reading of historical texts his presentation of them was both novel and captivating. Moreover, they were novel to his audience, which for reasons outlined above is a contingency / luxury not so readily afforded to Yarvin — precisely because of Moldbug’s memetic success and impact / influence.
[Aside: it’s incredibly difficult for anyone who discovered Moldbug post-2014 to really apprehend the impact he’s had on right-wing dissident thought currents, because his ideas subsequently infiltrated the mainstream and began the process of being assimilated by it. The nature of influence is such that, once an idea has become sufficiently influential, it’s highly unlikely that anyone encountering it for the ‘first’ time hasn’t already encountered a version of it represented in a filtered form somewhere else. Therefore, the original impact — precisely the nature / aspects of the idea which made it influential in the first place — is obscured / lost, or at least rendered non-obvious to the Moldbuggian neophyte. That said, Moldbug always made it clear that his ideas were essentially updates / patches for old-skool reactionary political theory. Ideas and concepts, which were either not widely known or had fallen out of fashion / circulation since the Cathedral had significantly advanced its pseudo-moral mind-virus — thrusting its barbed tentacles into every available orifice of the State. In the process, destroying the boundary between church and state + polluting the ideological water supply in order to cordycep / take control of the political decision structure.]
A lot of what anons object to in Yarvin was also present in Moldbug. Not just in some embryonic form, but fully realised and clearly articulated. For example, anons complain about Yarvin’s stance on being a dissident (don’t do it), activism (don’t do it), political participation (don’t do it), Chris Ruffo (don’t do it), “violence and Hitler” (don’t do it), Amerikaners (basically peasants), our current elites (actually elite), etc… but these anons frequently embraced identical positions when they were expressed at Unqualified Reservations. So, as often as not, it’s anons who’ve updated their position / analysis, or improved their reading comprehension skills, not Yarvin.
Here’s some vintage Moldbug, which, in-keeping with UR style guidelines, I’ve quoted at length. It’s all taken from the same post, A Gentle Introduction to Unqualified Reservations Chapter 9: The Procedure and the Reaction, which has the overarching aim of convincing rightwing dissidents to ditch activism and embrace their inner-passivist [Aside: I won’t insult your readers by assuming they are unfamiliar with Yarvin, holding their hands while reading it, by quoting from analogous / contemporaneous statements / sentiments expressed by Yarvin].
Let’s begin with Moldbug’s advocacy of the replacement of the decision structure > reform of the decision structure:
The reactionary’s opinion of USG is that it is what it is. It is run by the people who run it. And at present, the present management may well be the best people in the world to run USG, and even if they’re not he can’t imagine what might be done about it—short of replacing the whole thing. This simple and final judgment, like the death penalty, admits no possible compromise. […]
And move onto his advocacy of anti-activism / passivism > anything which could be labelled ‘activist’ or feed energy to the System by occupying it’s frame and giving it something / a target to suppress / oppress:
As a matter of both principle and tactics, the passivist rejects any involvement with any activity whose goal is to influence, coerce, or resist the government, either directly or indirectly. He is revolted by the thought of setting public policy. He would rather drink his own piss, than shift public opinion. He finds elections—national, state or local—grimly hilarious. And if he needs to get from Richmond to Baltimore, he drives through West Virginia.
The passivist has a term for democratic activism directed by the right against the left. That term is counter-activism. Passivism does not dispute the fact that counter-activism sometimes works. For instance, it worked for Hitler. (We’ll say more about Hitler.) However, it only works in very unusual circumstances (such as those of Hitler), and is extremely dangerous when it does work (e.g., the result may be Hitler).
Basically, be subversive and cultivate spiritual defection within a tiny section of the elite > even attempt to orchestrate broad based support for reaction amongst the “river of meat":
In case this isn’t crystal-clear, the steel rule precludes, in no particular order: demonstrations, press releases, suicide bombs, lawsuits, dirty bombs, Facebook campaigns, clean bombs, mimeographed leaflets, robbing banks, interning at nonprofits, assassination, “tea parties,” journalism, bribery, grantwriting, graffiti, crypto-anarchism, balaclavas, lynching, campaign contributions, revolutionary cells, new political parties, old political parties, flash mobs, botnets, sit-ins, direct mail, monkeywrenching, and any other activist technique, violent or harmless, legal or illegal, fashionable or despicable.
Almost as an aside, Moldbug proceeds to drop an analogy he uses every single time he does a podcast as Yarvin…
As a broad analogy, the passivist’s relationship to USG is much like the relationship of an American expatriate in Costa Rica, to the government of Costa Rica. He has no illusions about it. He submits to its authority in every detail. He is happy when it succeeds, and sad when it screws up. And he’s about as likely to try to horn in on its decision structure as he is to move to Iran and run for Grand Ayatollah.
He moves onto a discussion of the tactical benefits of passivism > activism in 2009, which are identical to his presentation of the tactical benefits in 2022:
First tactical benefit: the passivist immediately drops off the Structure’s defensive radar screen. While it must at all times be kept in mind that the Structure is not a conspiracy and has no star topology, it can be described as the organization of all those corrupted by power. If there is one thing these people understand, it is activism—the art of controlling USG from outside its formal boundaries. It is their art. And they sure don’t like it when it’s turned against them.
If there is one thing progressives are good at, it is identifying and targeting a competing activist who is attempting, futilely as we have seen above, to out-mafia the mafia. Right-wing activism acts as a sort of adjuvant to the Structure’s immune system. It activates every possible defense mechanism. Some of which are really quite nasty.
Since the Left is now thoroughly in control of the State’s bone marrow, there is only one way for the Right to evade quick, efficient destruction by its T-cells: avoid deploying any surface protein that the Left recognizes. The Left’s own weapons are trivial members of this set. And this is why counter-activism is basically a bad idea.
And continues to discuss why providing your enemy — the thing you want to destroy — with energy it uses to grow bigger, might be a bad idea…
The problem isn’t just that stimulating the left’s immune system is harmful to the right. If it was harmful to the left as well, that might be tactically acceptable.
But since leftism is a decentralized movement, not a centralized conspiracy, stimulating the left’s immune system just means stimulating the left. So the counter-activist loses on both sides of the equation. He brings hell on himself, and he donates energy to the Death Star.
[Aside: Moldbug proceeds to — brilliantly — use The Axis vs The Allies (spoiler alert: The Allies were an axis acting in concert with a plan for world domination, which we are now living in, while The Axis was a loose untrusting alliance with no such remotely actionable plan for world domination, Nazi Africa, etc…) as an illuminating example of how Leftist projection works. How the Left, which is the Structure, projects a Rightist counter-Structure, which obviously does not exist — there is only one Structure — but which, as a phantasm, imbues the Left’s struggle with a heightened sense of urgency and validates its will-to-power by any means / tactics necessary.]
However, while Moldbug was away, working down the coding salt mines at Urbit, BAP and #Frogtwitter became much more influential. Throughout this period, there was an increased cross-pollination both of ideas and personnel between post-NRx and #Frogtwitter, which has continued after Yarvin returned. BAP is MUCH more enthusiastic about the potential of involvement in politics / political activism — including taking back / occupying political structures — and cautionary about ‘voluntarily’ ceding control of these at every level, national but especially local, to your political enemies.
BAP considers local politics and strategically occupying official positions within the political structure (police, soldiers, magistrates, etc) to be especially important. Opposition is easier to coordinate at the local / ‘grassroots’ level and maintained / increased representation within these roles / professions is necessary in case low-level violence breaks out — otherwise the enemy will have an entirely freehand to fist you with.
In my opinion, some of the anons who embody / represent the spirit of the integration of post-NRx and #Frogtwitter / BAPism are accounts like @0x49fa98, @CovfefeAnon, @L0m3z and @QuasLacrimas — all of whom have synthesised conceptual elements from both sides of the sphere. Anons like @yama_pain and myself and are also part of this general transition / milieu but retain a stronger attachment to Landian NRx / Will-to-Power as something which is fundamentally a cybernetic-Capital / deterministic materialist-Thing. Something which is anti-anthropogenic, in the sense of arguing for the impact of enhanced mechinic desire > humanistic agency. Advocating silicon > carbon means it’s anti-Vitalist in a BAPist sense, which retains a certain species-based-loyalty via a cladistic commitment to realising warmblooded potential aka the beach body ready Übermensch.
Another figure Apostate focuses on is Thomas777. We’ve spoken about him a few times and I know you think his aesthetics are just as important as his ideas, if not more so. I live in a mostly blue collar town, and right down the street from my house is a dive bar frequented by construction workers, bikers, and all sorts of townies. I’ve often remarked that if I were to show the patrons there my twitter feed, they’d think everyone but Thomas was gay. Why is he important to Apostate?
Thomas777 is a fascinating figure. He was one of the OG poasters on the Salo and Phoria Forums, who became increasingly shrouded in mystery after disappearing for several years. He was drawn out of retirement when an anon published a brilliant PDF containing some of his most important posts. Anons who hadn’t been involved in forum culture and who hadn’t been initiated into T777’s uniquely insightful takes found the PDF a revelation.
But what I found FASCINATING about T777’s RETVRN was how he took it as an opportunity to REINVENT / reinvigorate how he interfaced with political theory as an online persona / CHARACTER. He accepted the faustian pact of sacrificing the mystery / intrigue he had cultivated on Salo, Phoria and MPC forums in order to become an UBER-FACEFAG — every bit as uncompromising and EXTREME as the most maladjusted 卐 saluting “Hitler and Violence” loving basement-dwelling anon, but considerably more astute in his revisionist historical takes.
Thomas777 began communicating with his audience directly on Twitter, with a high level of immediacy / purpose and without guard rails or anything to preserve a sense of distance / the fourth wall. He pioneered a new writing STYLE using random CAPITALISATION for shock and awe EMPHASIS of certain words and phrases, which, much like BAP or Weihan, quickly became inextricably associated with his account / persona. Next he started posting more and more selfies, like some terminally self-obsessed teenage InstaThot, which were obviously massively embracing + UNCOO + self-conscious, featuring the same fixed poses and contorted expressions over and over again, taken in public toilets and dingy hotel rooms…
But INCREDIBLY he somehow pulled it off, and all of this stuff which SHOULD have been really uncool SOMEHOW — by sheer force of charisma / persona — became COO. I was fascinated by this process, since being ‘cool’ is one of the core pathways to attracting / provoking young frustrated elites into the zero-to-one gambit of defection. I was also interested in how T777 positioned himself as ‘authentic’ but how — possessed by GenX genius — he did so knowingly by self-consciously building a brand predicated on ‘authenticity’ somehow without becoming ‘inauthentic’ in the process, which is counter-intuitive, but resonates the new age of ironic-sincerity neo-artists like BAP, T777 and Nasim Aghdam aesthetic’s evoke / embody.
Can you ask Thomas to unblock me?
I can’t get Thomas777 to do anything — not even give me the ‘meditation on vengeance’ video self-portrait I’ve been chasing him for since last year. If anyone knows how to get T777 to do something he apparently doesn’t want to — threats? drugs? violence? pussy? — please let me know. I really want to document / aestheticise T777’s thoughts on VENGEANCE as something central to the Nuremberg Trials — which means vengeance is inscribed into the marrow of the establishment / foundations of the NWO from the historical moment of its inception — as well as how his own personal / biographical need / desire for vengeance drives him.
Lastly, I very much want to know whats in the future for Apostate? Not simply specific exhibits or projects being worked on, but also what role do you hope it to fill within this “movement” or within the “art right,” or however you see it?
In my more maniacal moments, I want Apostate to create exhibitions that are profoundly disturbing to the Neoreligious conscience of the CAW. I want Apostate to scale financially to the point it can conduct a hostile takeover of White Cube, PACE and Gagosian galleries and take their interns as sex slaves. I want Apostate to collaborate with creative anons to destabilise / depose the extant status hierarchy of the mainstream art establishment. More than anything, I want Apostate to fly under the radar until it’s ready to self-detonate and use it to BLOW THE WHOLE FUCKING THING UP.
[Aside: Of course, this is all just puerile fantasy / projection. But scarily, Hyperstition + simulation theory mean nothing is ever entirely just fantasy / projection — since these are energetic staging posts towards reification — and you never really know who’s fantasy-reality you’re trapped in.]
Retvrning to reality, I’ll say a bit more about specific plans and exhibitions, to give your readers a sense of what Apostate Gallery is actually doing and why I think it’s important that this stuff is being done…
I’m currently working on an exhibition of OG content called Mudshark Angels. Of course, being Apostate Gallery, this isn’t an exhibition about mudsharking so much as an abstract, lipstick smeared requiem for the girls who paid the toll — who died chugging on what they love.
An anon I’m working with is using eastern aesthetic principles to construct a series of minimalist Zen terrariums. Ostensibly, these painstakingly curated aesthetic ecosystems have nothing to do with politics and are the manifestation of pure aestheticised ecological obsession. But under the Regime everything is rendered political. So the act of constructing terrariums — the habit of aesthetic micro-world building and creating a vision of the post-Anthropocene — is rendered an implicitly political act. It’s an act of peaceful aggression — something which uses aesthetics as a force-multiplier in the realm of the symbolic to manifest alternate ecologies.
Another anon I’m working with is hunting various species of beetle, which upon capture are pined and displayed according to predefined aesthetics of scientific convention. It’s a habit / performance, which combines the predatory impulse to hunt and kill with the autistic desire to collect, classify and catalogue. We are currently preparing a bespoke selection and display of his autistic kills to exhibit at Apostate.
I also have ideas / plans for several incredibly ambitious / complex projects, which I desperately need funding to undertake in order to do them justice. These are exactly the kind of projects which would inevitably set Apostate Gallery on a collision course with the CAW because they deliberately piss all over its aesthetic / semantic territory, while producing the kind of art ethics committees have made impossible inside the arts establishment / thought-reservation.
[Aside: while this interview was written to pass as an interview for your readers, it was really written for the attention of just one man… Peter, if you’re reading this and if anything I’ve said above makes any sense to your GRIDS addled brain — please gib me monies. We can do a law suit together and call it art. Whatever it takes, I’m game (no-homo).]
But seriously, a real problem for the online Right is that Conservative Inc exists primarily to suck up / syphon off all available funding and channel it away from interesting projects — things actually designed to fuck with the System / status quo — and give it to themselves. These creatures and the institutions they secrete / inhabit are preprogrammed to meekly comply with the System — in order to protect their undeserved position within it, which is based on a pathological willingness to keep on losing — and coded merely to maintain a sterile / servile simulacrum of Resistance™.
Whatever the online Right is, it needs to dethrone / destroy the rancid pathology of systemic losing for personal professional gain — which has infected / captured every facet of the (((mainstream))) Right’s institutional / organisational infrastructure. Systemic capitulation to orthodox progressivism via the moral certitude / superiority backdoor progressivism has installed in Conservative Inc — is an anathema to the heresiarch.
Apostate Gallery is committed to waging semiotic war on the symbolic order of the CAW — via aesthetics as an iconoclastic force-multiplier in the realm of the symbolic — in an attempt to destabilise it’s inherent inertia through a visual + contextual language / idiom fatally, semiotically intelligible to it and derive irreverent, aesthetic pleasure from doing so.
Apostate Gallery is currently soliciting unsolicited donations in BTC bc1qyxxm5yel2xmzck3elm6ascyfejw68la024lfwc which will go towards creating incredible content