Cathedral Studies: Cornel West is Confused

I like the concept of “Cathedral Studies” as a field of specialization within the NRx; indeed, it was the heart of the beginning of the enterprise. It was Moldbug’s raison d’etre.

As Stirner comments at Outside in on UNESCO Man:

Unesco Man lays out how the progs wormed their way into the heart of UNESCO, and then used that as a platform to elevate the social science view of face and sideline to biological view of the physical anthropologists and evolutionary biologists.

Of great interest to NRxers with an interest in Cathedral Studies or the alt-History of the 20th century.

Today, our Cathedral Study will look at confused and confusing statements from the very heart of the Cathedral, the Harvard/Princeton/Union Theological Seminary/Washington DC/Salon axis, as  Thomas “The Baffler” Frank and Professor Cornel “Enter the Matrix” West come together to bitch about the insufficient Progness of our beloved Prog-in-Chief, President Obama. Looked at as a whole, the interview, or dialogue, or whatever the format is supposed to be, is just an extended bull session by a couple of creaky, cranky Pee-aitch-dees, but one section made me smile widely:

We ended up with a Wall Street presidency, a drone presidency, a national security presidency. The torturers go free. The Wall Street executives go free. The war crimes in the Middle East, especially now in Gaza, the war criminals go free. And yet, you know, he acted as if he was both a progressive and as if he was concerned about the issues of serious injustice and inequality and it turned out that he’s just another neoliberal centrist with a smile and with a nice rhetorical flair. And that’s a very sad moment in the history of the nation because we are—we’re an empire in decline. Our culture is in increasing decay. Our school systems are in deep trouble. Our political system is dysfunctional. Our leaders are more and more bought off with legalized bribery and normalized corruption in Congress and too much of our civil life. You would think that we needed somebody—a Lincoln-like figure who could revive some democratic spirit and democratic possibility.

REALLY? How nice of Distinguished Comrade West to note The Demotist Decline that he helped to further with his own work, that demotism produced Obama who couldn’t stop the demotist decline, and that “The democratic politician and the electorate are bound together by a circuit of reciprocal incitement, in which each side drives the other to ever more shameless extremities of hooting, prancing cannibalism, until the only alternative to shouting is being eaten.”

Oh, sorry Professor, you didn’t say that, that was Dr. Land in Dark Enlightenment, Part I.

I thought we elected Obama to accelerate our Empire in its Decline. He seems to be doing a fine job. Perhaps, more than we can believe as yet, The Cathedral is a House built upon sand.

Nick Land – Previous Episodes

I suspect that many readers of Outside in just think of Nick Land as the Dark Enlightenment guy, or perhaps a main pillar of the Techno-Capitalist node of the Trichotomy Loop (trigger warning: infinity). Some of you, googled. Perhaps you’ve read the items below; if not, you ought.


Since Land has become, at minimum, a seminar director within the NRx, a look at the Path he trod to get here is interesting, even (dare I say?) Enlightening.


Start here. This is the part that, for my particular interests, bears excerpting:

In the early Nineties, Land was wont to describe himself as a “professor of delirial engineering”, recalls the colleague. He also went through a “glorious phase in which he offered millenial prophecies for the next global meltdown in world markets, a deduction based on past such cycles. It rather smacked of an infatuation with the power of numbers.”

As much chaos magician as chaos theorist, Land is said to be thoroughly versed in the gamult of occult knowledge and parapsychology: the I Ching, Current 93 (Aleister Crowley’s kundalini-like energy force), Kabbalist numerology, H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos, and the eschatological cosmology of Terence McKenna (a neo-hippy evangelist for plant-based hallucinogens like psilocybin and DMT). Much of CCRU’s thought seems to emanate from an uncanny interzone between science and superstition. (Both of which appeal to rigorous method, of course.)

After reading Thirst For Annihilation’s valedictory salute to “the saints, shamans, werewolves, vampires, and lunatics with whom I have communed,”, and his self-description in ***Collapse as “a palsied mantis constructed from black jumpers and secondhand Sega circuitry, stalking the crumbling corridors of academe systematically extirpating all humanism”, I expected Land to be an emaciated and eldritch figure. Stick insect thin, he is. But Land’s gentle voice and impishly twinkling eyes make him closer to a playgroup leader than a dark magus. He and the CCRU crew ply me with endless cups of tea while explaining the curious diagrams on the walls.

There’s a chart that synthesises Kabbalah’s Tree of Life with H.P. Lovecraft, and is related to a magickal system called tangential tantra. “Instead of summoning or invoking, you’re setting up a magical event that will be cut across from the forces of the Outside, so unanticipated events will happen,” explains Land. Another poster–influenced by J.G. Ballard’s concept of “deep time” as outlined in his catastrophe novel The Drowned World–depicts a cross section of the human spine, with different vertebrae aligned to different phases of human prehistory. And there’s a chart that divides human history into a series of periods–“the primitive socius, the despotic state, capitalism” –culminating in a post-human phase named “Unuttera”, which I learn refers to “The Entity or polytendriled abomination” at the End of Time.

The most recent diagram represents the culmination of CCRU’s forays into the occult numerological techniques of digital reduction and triangular numbering. A spiral bisected by a number scale that descends from 9 to one, the diagram looks rather ordinary. But as CCRU explain its implications to me at considerable length (something to do with allowing them to understand “concepts as number systems) it becomes clear they sincerely believe it contains something on a par with the secret of the universe. The 9-spiral mandala–the Barker Scale, they call it–is the end-product of CCRU’s determination to abandon “the fuzziness of discursive articulation” (philosophy) and move into “a much crisper, more rigorous and productive diagrammatic style”, says Land. (“Crisp and rigorous” is one of his favourite phrases, despite the stress it puts on his weak ‘R’).

The diagram was a gift from “Professor Barker”. Inspired by Professor Challenger–the Conan-Doyle anti-hero reinvented by Deleuze & Guattari in “The Geology of Morals” section of A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism & Schizophrenia–Barker appears to be a sort of imaginary mentor who hips the CCRU to various cosmic secrets. “But we’d be a bit reluctant to say ‘imaginary’ now, wouldn’t we?,” cautions Land with a mischievous glint in his eye. “We’ve learned as much–well, vastly more from Professor Barker –than supposedly ‘real’ pedagogues!”. As CCRU’s “avatar”, Barker has revealed the “Geo-Cosmic Theory of Trauma”. Following the materialist lead of Deleuze & Guattari, human culture is analysed as just another set of strata on a geocosmic continuum. From the chemistry of metals to the non-linear dynamics of the ocean, from the cycles of capitalism to the hyper-syncopated breakbeat rhythms of jungle, the cosmos is an “unfolding traumascape” governed by self-similar patterns and fundamental processes that recur on every scale.

Here’s another take. One must remember that a holograph is seems to be one thing, but looks quite different as you walk around it.

All of this is running in the background, so to speak at Outside in; for myself, as one also “thoroughly versed in the gamult of occult knowledge and parapsychology” (heh) I believe it’s time for me now to begin using my own small gifts to relate “neoreaction” to the Hidden Variables that most men never suspect, much less know.

How that will look, see my next post.


One of the last times I saw Nick was in the Coop on Earlsdon high street; in his basket were about six Pot Noodles, and a cabbage (“because I don’t want to get scurvy”).

A Whole New Land


“The Ministry of Truth–Minitrue, in Newspeak–was startlingly different from any other object in sight. It was an enormous pyramidal structure of glittering white concrete, soaring up terrace after terrace 300 metres in the air.” George Orwell, 1984.

Through the good offices of E. Anthony Gray aka @RiverC we encountered The Nature of Order: An Essay on the Art of Building and the Nature of the Universe, Book 1 – The Phenomenon of Life

The reference to the image of the TransAmerica building is from a different work, A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction.

Via Land:

You really need to read Nature of Order, if you haven’t already. He outlines what underlies much of this somewhat unformed yearning of the romantic and otherwise sort. Fundamentally, he argues that on the Quantum level arrangement trumps causality; thus the ‘field of effect of arrangements’ is an empirical phenomenon of some degree.

What follows is the theory of centers, of wholes as a field of centers (and their fields) – providing a third theory which allows one to move between the empirical and metaphysical (empirical being continuous, metaphysical being discrete.)

The curious experiment at the heart of the mystery is the ‘two slit’ electron experiment. The books are rather expensive, but quite worth it (so far, anyway – we’ve not read the whole opus yet.)

I now am charged, indeed, glowing with the feeling, that never may I see the World the same.