Sunday, 10 November 2013

Tracing the Invisible Time of the Present

In Reading Capital (1968) Althusser argues that we cannot rest content with the insight that there exist different forms or rhythms of time to undermine the linear time of historicism and capital. He argues that, in addition to different forms of visible time, there are invisible times. In particular we cannot read capitalist time ‘in the flow of any given process’, because this is an invisible time that is ‘essentially illegible, as invisible and as opaque as the reality of the total capitalist production process itself.’ (RC 112) Such a time is only accessible in its concept, and this is a concept which must be constructed’ (RC 113).

            This would seem to leave the ‘lived time’ of capital, its relation to the biological, as only ideological – a receding moment that we cannot grasp outside of a discourse of science. If we return to For Marx, and in particular the essay ‘The ‘Piccolo Teatro’: Bertolazzi and Brecht’ (FM 129-151), then we can consider this a phenomenology, even in the Hegelian sense,[1] of our access to ‘invisible time’ (so, Reading Capital would then be equivalent to Hegel’s Logic). Althusser’s essay explores three modes of time that are staged in the play. He begins from ‘the co-existence of a long, slowly-passing, empty time and a lightning-short, full time’ (FM 134) in the play: between scenes of mass characters going about everyday life – the time of the chronicle – and the sudden intrusion at the end of each act of the three central characters (Nina, her father, and her lover) – the time of tragedy. This would seem to instantiate also a Benjaminian contrast between ‘empty, homogeneous time’ and ‘now-time’ (Jetztzeit), especially as this second form of full time, according to Althusser, ‘is a dialectical time par excellence.’ (FM 137)

            The essay, however, disputes this identification. The tragic time of encounter, dialectical time, is, in fact, the melodramatic time of the father of the central character. We have not passed from ideological time to non-ideological time, but to another form of ideology. While dialectical time is pushed to the margins, this dialectical time is a time dictated by the father, who wishes to save his daughter’s honour from her lover-cum-pimp. It is melodramatic. ‘Sheltered from the world, it unleashes all the fantastic form of a breathless conflict which can only ever find peace in the catastrophe of someone else’s fall: it takes this hullabaloo for destiny and its breathlessness for the dialectic.’ (FM 140) This is still the dialectic of consciousness and ‘And that is why its destruction is the precondition for any real dialectic.’ (FM 138)

            The third form of time is only indicated when Nina abandons her father – who has murdered her lover – to embrace the life of (presumably) a prostitute. ‘Father, consciousness, dialectic, she throws them all overboard and crosses the threshold of the other world’ (FM 140) This rejection of the false dialectic of consciousness is parallel to Marx’s gesture in Capital and to Brecht’s theatre. It is the emergence of a true knowledge. It requires the rejection of consciousness to pass into an ‘experience’ of time, which is to say capitalist time, as it is – in its naked dominance.


I now want to turn to contemporary reflections or endorsements of accelerationism as a site that replicates this tension of the attempt to trace a phenomenology of capitalist time. What we could call ‘classical accelerationism’, associated with the work of Nick Land, involved the endorsement of capitalist time as a time of acceleration, in the form of expanding value and the absorption of all elements of life under an ‘inhuman’ marketization (Land 2013). It is the acceleration of this vector that will, it is claimed, pierce the wall of capitalism itself an usher in a radically new future that has, in Land’s reading, already occurred. We are infiltrated from the future, by guerrillas of this technological and cybernetic mobilization of flows.

            Contemporary accelerationism modulates this schema (I will be referring to the work of Alex Williams, Nick Srnicek and Mark Fisher). It concludes that we have been robbed of our future by an inertial and crisis-ridden neoliberalism that has rescinded the dynamism of capitalism for the opaque mechanisms of speculative finance. The phenomenology of this experience of capitalist time is provided by dance music. Once, in this story, dance music provided an inventive form of musical accelerationism. In Mark Fisher’s characterization, ‘While 20th Century experimental culture was seized by a recombinatorial delirium, which made it feel as if newness was infinitely available, the 21st Century is oppressed by a crushing sense of finitude and exhaustion.’ Whereas once, in the 1990s, there was a ‘hardcore continuum’ that had guaranteed an experimental acceleration (from rave to jungle to early grime), today, adopting Simon Reynolds diagnosis of ‘Retromania’, that future has stalled in bad pastiche (Williams 2013). Our moment is a nostalgia for a future that was once promised (‘Today is the Tomorrow you were Promised Yesterday’, in Victor Burgin’s phrase). Retromania is, in Alex Williams’s formulation, the ‘pop-cultural logic of late neoliberalism’.

            The stasis of neo-liberalism, which concludes the only way into the future is more of the same, is mimicked by a plundering of the past to grab images and forms of acceleration that reappear as merely static moments. We live, in Alex Williams’s Ballardian coinage, a chronosickness (2013). Unable to accede to the future, or even a faith or belief in the future, we instead can only live out the blockage of our present moment.

            This is evident in Mark Fisher’s recent discussion of juke / footwork – a form of Chicago ‘ghetto house’ at 155-165 bpm, with repetitive and often aggressive sampling (‘Fuck Dat’). It would seem that footwork continues the hardcore continuum and instantiates another acceleration, which would dispute the accelerationist characterization of the present moment as a moment of stasis. To rescue this diagnosis, Fisher argues that while jungle ‘was dark, but also wet, viscous, and enveloping’, footwork is ‘strangely desiccated’. This illiquid form traces its resistance ‘in the bad infinity of the animated GIF, with its stuttering, frustrated temporality, its eerie sense of being caught in a time-trap.’ If jungle was predictive of accelerative temporalities the footwork, according to Fisher, only captures the impasses of the present moment.




The answer of ‘classical accelerationism’ to this dilemma is more acceleration through celebration of the speed of capitalism. When jungle embodied the ‘Landian imaginary’ of ‘apocalyptic paranoid euphoria’ this made possible a future (Williams 2013). The present moment rescinds that promise and so contemporary accelerationism no longer works on the ‘speed’ of capitalism, which is not present, but seeks another form of time. Lacking this ‘alienating temporality’ (Williams 2013), speed only replicates capitalist parameters. To push beyond them we need to play off acceleration against speed, against ‘a simple brain-dead onrush’ (Williams 2013), we are called to a new ‘universal field’ of accelerative possibilities. This future is predicated, for Alex Williams (2013), in the engagement with ‘the forward-propelling energies embodied in the best of UK race music, its posthuman ingenuity, alien sonic vocabulary, and its manipulation of affect and impersonal desire.’

            I leave to one side the nationalism of this agenda (seemingly an endemic feature of music writing in the UK, usually in regard to an inferiority complex in relation to US-music). The example of footwork I’ve just discussed points to a problem with this agenda: the lack of any instantiation of ‘acceleration’ in the present moment. The ‘possibilities’ that contemporary accelerationism promises to trace in a universal field slip, unpleasantly, into another form of retromania. This is another form of nostalgia, but a retooled nostalgia that castigates the present in the name of encrypted possibilities that remain largely invisible.

            In the Althusserian terms I sketched I would argue that this figuration of capitalist temporality is melodramatic. It implies that at the edge of the present – dominated by the empty time of the chronicle – is the occasional flash of melodramatic dialectical time. These flashes are, however, largely sent from the past. For all its proclamations of a knowledge of the present and future, accelerationism does not accede to the abandonment of this ‘full’ time of the clash. What are lacking, ironically, are precisely the new aesthetic forms, the new modes of knowledge, which accelerationism is premised upon.

            Contemporary accelerationism remains perched precariously in the present moment, between a valorized past and a receding future. This is disjunction without synthesis. Again, it registers our broken relation to capitalist time, but only in the mystification we can reconnect to a superior force. Althusser insisted that it was the absence of relations that marked the temporal experience of capitalism for consciousness. My objection to accelerationism is not on the ground of absence, but on the promise of reconnection.



Even discussing accelerationism might be considered a waste of (your) time. This is especially true of a critical discussion. What interests me, however, is accessing the question of the knowledge of capitalist time.  Accelerationism promises the kind of exposure of capitalist time that marks Althusser’s real dialectic. It premises itself on the stripping away of consciousness, which is not now the result of capitalism’s practical anti-humanism, but rather of epistemic expansion and extended ‘rationality’. What I am suggesting is that it falls back from this into mere melodrama, and that it positions such a real dialectic as a melodramatic form.

            Of course it could be said, in line with Althusser, that knowledge of capitalist time is simply a matter for a critique of political economy and a reconstruction of the logic of capitalism, beyond human consciousness. What interests me is the registration and shaping of these experiences on and for consciousness, which does not simply disappear – except in Althusserian science or the accelerationist dream of inhuman knowledge. This implies, to me, a necessity to think the disconnection and impasse of the present moment as a figure, at least potentially, of consciousness. In this case our choice, or decision, of aesthetic figuration becomes a crucial mode of knowledge.


Althusser, Louis, For Marx, trans. Ben Brewster (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1969). [FM]

Althusser, Louis, and Étienne Balibar, Reading Capital [1968], trans. Ben Brewster (London and New York: Verso, 2009). [RC]

Fisher, Mark, Break It Down: Mark Fisher on DJ Rashad’s DoubleCup’, Electronic Beats, 22 October 2013b:

Land, Nick, Fanged Noumena: Collected Writings 1987-2007, intro. Ray Brassier and Robin Mackay (Falmouth: Urbanomic, 2013).

Reynolds, Simon, Retromania (London: Faber & Faber, 2011).

Reynolds, Simon (2013), ‘Introduction to the Hardcore Continuum’, The Wire:

Rose, Gillian, Dialectic of Nihilism:Post-Structuralism and Law (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1984).

Williams, Alex, ‘Back to the Future? Technopolitics and the legacy of the CCRU’, Berlin, 1 February 2013.

[1] In Gillian Rose’s summary: ‘Hegel’s text invites us to witness the education of natural consciousness, presented as a series of confrontations set in more or less recognizable historical settings: between two opposed individual consciousnesses, between opposed forces residing within a single consciousness, and between opposed forces belonging to the same communal consciousness.’ (6)

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Full Spectrum Offence: Savoy's Neo-Weird

The Weird: Fugitive Fictions/Hybrid Genres’,

Institute of English Studies, Senate House, University of London (8 November 2013)

The ‘Old Weird’ could be seen to be characterized by a notably dubious, not to say toxic, politics. H.P. Lovecraft’s racism is an obvious case – ‘the polyglot abyss’ of The Horror at Red Hook (1925) demonstrating the synthesis of racial panic and cosmic horror. We could also mention that Arthur Machen, when asked by the editors of Authors Take Sides for his views on the Spanish Civil War in 1937, was one of five authors who supported Franco, writing: ‘Arthur Machen begs to inform you that he is, and always has been, entirely for Franco.’ Algernon Blackwood, in his short story ‘Adventures of a Private Secretary’ (1906), has the character of an ‘old Jew’ with ‘an air of obsequious insolence’ (this is one of the milder slurs), called Marx (!).[1] Penguin’s decision to reprint the story in a volume of Blackwood’s Selected Tales in 1943 defies reasoned comment. Beyond personal politics I think we can also hazard a literary politics of the Old Weird that often rests on a sense of racial or political anxiety or threat.

            The ‘New Weird’, in obvious contrast, has a politics that is often much more to the Left. Beyond the obvious example of China Miéville, I would like to note a more general tendency to a cultural politics of loving the alien. The Weird is not seen as simply some terrible threat, but only a threat when perceived as such from within social constraints. The monstrous or Weird is to be celebrated for its expansion of consciousness and erosion of the bourgeois ego – the latter exemplified, often, by Lovecraft’s uptight ‘heroes’.[2]

            Grant Morrison’s short story ‘Lovecraft in Heaven’ exemplifies this turn by rewriting the ‘Old Weird’ into the ‘New Weird’.[3] Lovecraft is dying of cancer and Morrison considers the self-replicating monstrosity of cancer as the physical embodiment of both Lovecraft’s creatures and his fear of the feminine (the ‘cuntworld’ as Morrison puts it[4]). Lovecraft’s positivist rationalism makes him unable to embrace the chaotic and fractal. In conversation with his fictional creation Professor George Angell Lovecraft states: ‘I have come here to confirm my belief that the World of Reason still holds dominion over the primeval depths of the human imagination.’ Angell replies that Lovecraft is ‘quite naïve’ and that, in fact, ‘Reason is the flimsy mask on the face of Chaos’. Lovecraft’s rejoinder is ‘Then our whole world is a nightmare.’ ‘Only if you fear it’, is Angell’s reply. Angell starts to breakdown verbally and physically, saying ‘we must embrace them … integrate them’.[5] The story ends with Lovecraft being opened like a door, not into Hell, as Lovecraft supposes, but into Heaven.[6] This is the DeleuzoGuattarian Weird – in their preference for Lovecraft’s Dunsanian trips to his cosmic horror,[7] or the Levinasian weird of alterity and its integration.

World of Horror

What I want to consider here is a form of the ‘New Weird’ that embraces or integrates the toxic politics of certain strains of the Old Weird; this is the work of Manchester-based publishers Savoy and, most notably, their creation Lord Horror. Horror is a fictionalised reworking of wartime broadcaster for the Nazi’s William Joyce, nicknamed Lord Haw-Haw and executed for treason in 1946. The works deliberately, rather than unconsciously, toy with anti-Semitism, racism, and, in the figure of La Squab, paedophilic desire for the ‘fille fatale’. To be clear from the start I am not celebrating or endorsing this turn or self-conscious return to the politically toxic. These works disturb me profoundly, which is why I want to consider them as an outlier of contemporary Weird fiction.

            The world of Savoy and the world of Lord Horror is a multi-media platform. Lord Horror has appeared in novels (Lord Horror (1989), Motherfuckers: The Auschwitz of Oz (1996), Baptised in the Blood of Millions (2001), Invictus Horror (2013)), graphic novels or comics (Lord Horror series (1-7) (1989-1990) Reverbstorm 8-14 (1994-2000) (2012)), music, film, and criticism (Horror Panegyric (2008)). He also has sidekicks, in the form of Meng & Ecker (The Adventures of Meng & Ecker (1997)), and spin-off characters, such as La Squab (daughter of Meng) (La Squab (2012)).[8] The result is a ‘universe’ or mythos, somewhere between Lovecraft and the comic-book worlds of publishers like DC or Marvel. This dispersion gives a paradoxical consistency to Lord Horror as – like one of his models, Michael Moorcock’s Jerry Cornelius – he moves between times and formats. For reasons of brevity and economy today I want to focus on his appearance within the graphic novel Reverbstorm.

            Reverbstorm was a continuation of the first 7 Lord Horror comics and it appeared in 8 issues from 1994-2000. In 2012 these issues were collected together in one graphic novel, with an added final issue. David Britton is the writer, with the main artist being John Coulthart and additional art provided by Kris Guidio, while Michael Butterworth is the editor. The earlier Lord Horror comics, written by Michael Butterworth and drawn by Kris Guidio had initially been more ‘postmodern’ in their playing with comic conventions and comic characters the tone shifts dramatically in Reverbstorm. Now drawn primarily by John Coulthart the density of the art, the decline in the words, and the movement to a thoroughgoing engagement with modernist aesthetics, produces something slightly less immediately confrontational but certainly more strange.

            The shift began with John Coulthart’s work for Lord Horror 5 – a series of full page images of an imaginary Auschwitz with empty white text squares. Coulthart describes this as a ‘unique conjunction of Holocaust architecture and Weird Fiction.’[9] In fact Coulthart drew on and reworked an earlier image from his The Call of Cthulhu adaptation of R’lyeh to figure this imaginary camp. Obviously this is a shocking violation of the refusal of representation of the Holocaust and, even more provocatively, this violation melds the camps with the pulp world of Weird Fiction. It also opens to an architectural or spatial vision of the weird, which I now want to explore.


Spatial Dialectics

Just as the distinction between the latent and manifest contents of the dream had ceased to be valid, so had any division between the real and the super-real in the external world. Phantoms slid imperceptibly from nightmare to reality and back again, the terrestrial and psychic landscapes were now indistinguishable, as they had been at Hiroshima and Auschwitz, Golgotha and Gomorrah.

J.G. Ballard, The Drowned World (1962)[10]


The world of horror is now disconnected directly from the world of William Joyce – that of the 1920s, 30s and the war – displaced into a ‘future’ setting of Torenbürgen (the ‘unreal city’), or what Coulthart calls ‘Lord Horror’s vicious dreamscape of fascist atrocity’.[11] Lord Horror is living with Jessie Matthews (modelled on the English dancer, singer and actress of the 1920s and 30s). Matthews is a rock star, credited with reintroducing reverb into popular music, while Lord Horror defends her against anti-Semitic slurs and joins her on stage to sing. Horror is joined by his ‘brother’ James Joyce.

            Horror still broadcasts a mixture of rock and roll with cut-ups of William Joyce on his radio show ‘Amerikkka’s war in the ether’ on Radio Reich Rund Funk. As Michael Paraskos notes in his review for The Spectator (!), ‘it is difficult to outline a clear narrative thread’.[12] His suggestion that the images represent Benjamin’s wreckage of history, quoted at the beginning of Reverbstorm, is astute. For Coulthart ‘Reverbstorm throws these numerous influences out like a dark prism, flashing broken images of refracted black light’.[13] I want to suggest this image practice inhabits something like what Fredric Jameson calls a ‘spatial dialectics’.[14] In Reverbstorm temporality has collapsed, or been collapsed, and instead we have the spatial play of fragments which are, pace Eliot, not ‘shored against my ruins’.[15]

            These fragments are the ruin; organised within the frame they are brought into contact to generate the weird effect. For Lovecraft modernism was conceived of under the sign of horror. When we encounter R’lyeh, in The Call of Cthulhu:

Without knowing what futurism is like, Johansen achieved something very close to it when he spoke of the city; for instead of describing any definite structure or building, he dwells only on broad impressions of vast angles and stone surfaces – surfaces too great to belong to any thing right or proper for this earth, and impious with horrible images and hieroglyphs.[16]

Torenbürgen is horrific, but also a space of modernism – a butchered modernism. This is Eliotic modernism with the anti-Semitism amplified and embodied. To ‘read’ or ‘view’ this non-narrative space is to engage with a difficult act of extracting meaning and reference while also attending to the clash and emptying of meaning.


Integrate That

I have drawn a contrast between the dubious politics of the old weird and the politics of acceptance and integration of the monstrous of the new weird. While I have suggested Savoy’s Lord Horror is an outlier to the new weird paradigm I’d also like to end by noting that it does produce a work of integration. In this case, as I’ve previously argued, what we are called to integrate is ‘fascinating (British) fascism’: the politics of William Joyce, the pre- and post-war politics of Oswald Mosley, and the anti-Semitism and racism that runs through certain strands of modernism.[17] This is integration in the mode of disintegration, in which fascism, Nazism and racism are coded through and as the Weird – also activating the dubious politics of the Weird as well.

            Obviously we can note at least two problems with this strategy. The first is the problem Perry Anderson identified with post-structuralism: the randomization of history. Rather than generating the tension or contradiction of a dialectic this spatial arrangement of images and signifiers merely serves to mix-up and even neutralise the ‘charge’ of the toxic materials it plays with. The result is not so much a force-field, but rather a slackening of tension. The second, inverse, problem is that this integration and neutralization servers a jouissance – a pained ‘enjoyment’ – that reactivates the toxic core as aesthetic option. Far from challenging the fascination of fascism this ‘weird fascism’ integrates the toxic core as ‘attractive’ possibility.

            In some ways the point is that we can’t simply immunise ourselves against these problems or possibilities. The final issue of the graphic novel concerns, in its text, the disintegration of Lord Horror as his insides push out through his skin. This terminal collapse involves reprising the key image elements, under the pressure that refuses to integrate. The tension of this (dis)integrative moment remains and, I should say, never fails to disturb me. So, I’m not simply recommending a return to the malignant politics of some of the Old Weird writers. Instead, I’m interested in how this malignant politics feeds the horror element of the Weird and how Savoy’s return to this malignant politics puts the contemporary Weird under pressure. This, I think, is the tension of our moment.

[1] Algernon Blackwood, Selected Tales of Algernon Blackwood (West Drayton: Penguin, 1943), pp.22-50.
[2] This model is, in fact, figured in Lovecraft’s own fiction. In his story ‘The Whisperer in Darkness’ (1931) one character, who has had his brain transferred into a metal cylinder by the Fungi from Yuggoth (!), claims ‘‘What I had thought morbid and shameful and ignominious is in reality awesome and mind-expanding and even glorious – my previous estimate being merely a phase of man’s eternal tendency to hate and fear and shrink from the utterly different.’ (193)
[3] Grant Morrison, ‘Lovecraft in Heaven’, in The Starry Wisdom, ed. D.M. Mitchell (London: Creation Books, 1994), pp.13-18.
[4] Ibid., p.16.
[5] Ibid., p.18.
[6] Ibid., p.18.
[7] Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, trans. Brian Massumi (London: Athlone, 1988), p.240.
[8] For a complete listing of Lord Horror’s appearances see the ‘Lord Horror Timeline’ in Keith Seward, Horror Panegyric (Manchester: Savoy, 2008), pp.119-125.
[9] John Coulthart, ‘Drawing the Dark’, in The Haunter of the Dark and other Grotesque Visions, intro. Alan Moore (London: Oneiros Books, 2006).
[10] J.G. Ballard, The Drowned World [1962] (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1965), p.72.
[11] Ibid.
[12] Michael Paraskos, Review of Reverbstorm, The Spectator 9 March 2013:
[13] Coulthart, ‘Drawing the Dark’.
[14] Fredric Jameson, Valences of the Dialectic (London and New York: Verso, 2009), pp.66-70.
[15] On the collapse of time, and other coordinates of plot/structure in Lord Horror, see Keith Seward, Horror Panegyric (Manchester: Savoy, 2008), pp.23-29.
[16] H. P. Lovecraft, ‘The Call of Cthulhu’, in The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories, ed. and intro. S. T. Joshi (London: Penguin, 1999), pp.165-6.
[17] Benjamin Noys, ‘Fascinating (British) Fascism: David Britton’s Lord Horror’, Rethinking History 6.3 (Winter 2002): 305–318, and ‘Fascinating (British) Fascism: Lord Horror to Meng & Ecker’ Afterword in David Britton, Fuck Off and Die, illustrated by K. Guidio (Manchester: Savoy Books, 2005).

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Are you Deleuzian, or have you ever been Deleuzian?

If someone hasn't already said it, which they have, Foucault got the wrong century - the 21st century, or at least so far, is the Deleuzian century. There's the obvious critical sense of this, which is that Deleuze expresses the ideology of contemporary capitalism / power. There's some truth to this and I've made the accusation myself, but, ironically, I'd said Deleuze is the language of our contemporary consciousness. His thought shapes our awareness of the present moment and resistance to it: struggles as much as surrenders, ruptures as much as recuperations.

From folds, to resonance, to time-images, even Roland Simon (of TC) speaks Deleuzian (or Bergson/Deleuze) when it comes to characterizing the temporality of the present moment (thanks Daniel Spaulding). What is insinuated is a productive contradiction, a differentiated moment that might unfold the abstractions of dominance; vectored in Deleuze through life, but even then this is not so much the full life of post-autonomia, but a fleeting, even damaged, life.
I speak another language. I speak Derridean. This is by training, by forgotten inclination, by habitus, without the name appearing. Untimely is usually cool. Out of step now, in step with the future. It's a grandiose 'failure', in its Nietzschean way. Out of time, out of ideology (a bit). This untimeliness I feel belongs to the past, as much Derrida and the internalized remnants of British social democracy, shaping the contradiction of inaction, a dull weariness, a bad investment.
Oh me, oh my, oh lyric I. You can't teach a dead dog new tricks.
To miss the present moment then. To grasp it might involve an internal phenomenology of this Deleuzian moment. Deleuze as pharmakon.
For me it's a foreign language, and I'm terrible at those. Bye, bye, present moment.

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Soleil Noir

On May 1 1937 the first and only issue of Soleil Noir, a self-styled ‘post-Surrealist’ publication consisting only of one double-sided mimeographed page, was seized and destroyed by Parisian police on charges ‘obscenity’. The contents of the issue can only be reconstructed largely from a truncated description later found in the files of André Masson and brief (wholly negative) reports in other Surrealist publications.

What is evident is the disturbing content of the texts printed in the issue and especially of a hand-drawn illustration, which appears to have been drawn for each copy. Masson notes the similarity to his style, and is concerned it will be attributed to him, but unfortunately his description of the actual drawing is vague at best – speaking only of a ‘the blackened solar anus’, ‘a technique at once primitive and beyond anything of our time’, and that it ‘burns the eye’. In terms of the texts he, and others note, the extreme violence of the language, its agrammaticality, and a lengthy and scurrilous attack on Georges Bataille. The writer intimates that during his time at Quarr abbey, on the Isle of Wight, Bataille underwent a ‘failed’ initiation and, as a result, was ‘burned by the black sun’. In the most obscene terms Bataille is accused of fatally re-writing his ‘wound’ or ‘burn’ into a political and economic theory of prodigality and excess that has reversed the ‘anti-economy’ of the ‘black sun’ qua ‘extinction’. Again, the descriptions are imprecise and, surprisingly, no mention of the attack has been found in any of Bataille’s letters or papers.

Although the issue was anonymous references have been found that suggest attribution to a provincial ‘surrealist’ (never recognised by Breton), Gaston B. [unfortunately no surname is given or can be reliably reconstructed], supposedly incarcerated in a mental institution for several years in the mid-1930s before he found his way to Paris where he tried, and failed, to meet Artaud. Even more speculatively it is reputed that Gaston joined the Legion of French Volunteers Against Bolshevism, and was later to serve as ‘occult adviser’ to the SS Charlemagne Division, formed in 1944 out of the remnants of the LVF. It is claimed either that ‘Gaston’ was executed out-of-hand by a special Soviet partisan group in Pomerania in February 1945, that he committed suicide in Berlin on May 1 1945 after helping prevent the seizure of the Furher’s bunker on that day, or that he was shot when captured by Free French forces under the command of General Leclerc.