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Lovecraft in California

The first quote didn’t really make sense until I read the second.

In a sense we could say that unregulated capitalism and quantum physics both feed the destabilising effects that Lovecraft “diagnoses” in his fiction. It is not a matter of reducing one to the other, and offering either a social or a naturalistic “explanation” of this chaos. Neither, I would say, is it a matter of complete separation between them, but rather a matter of tracing a continuity or entanglement between them in terms of matching the impasses of the “social” and the impasses of “nature.” Chaos is the limit of both, and marks the point where neither can provide a stable prop to the other. In that sense it is the point of mutual collapse, where both “nature” and the “social” no longer function consistently. Allied with the sense of horror at this inconsistency we can suggest a refusal to simply celebrate chaos, which could slip all too easily into the celebration of the symmetry of “chaotic” nature with the deregulated forces of free-market capitalism.

-The Lovecraft Event


Across the world, the Californian Ideology has been embraced as an optimistic and emancipatory form of technological determinism. Yet, this utopian fantasy of the West Coast depends upon its blindness towards - and dependence on - the social and racial polarisation of the society from which it was born. Despite its radical rhetoric, the Californian Ideology is ultimately pessimistic about fundamental social change. Unlike the hippies, its advocates are not struggling to build ‘ecotopia’ or even to help revive the New Deal. Instead, the social liberalism of New Left and the economic liberalism of New Right have converged into an ambiguous dream of a hi-tech ‘Jeffersonian democracy’. Interpreted generously, this retro-futurism could be a vision of a cybernetic frontier where hi- tech artisans discover their individual self-fulfillment in either the electronic agora or the electronic marketplace. However, as the zeitgeist of the ‘virtual class’, the Californian Ideology is at the same time an exclusive faith. If only some people have access to the new information technologies, ‘Jeffersonian democracy’ can become a hi-tech version of the plantation economy of the Old South. Reflecting its deep ambiguity, the Californian Ideology’s technological determinism is not simply optimistic and emancipatory. It is simultaneously a deeply pessimistic and repressive vision of the future.

-The Californian Ideology

Thu, September 11 2008 » Fiction

2 Responses

  1. David Moles September 11 2008 @ 12:48 am

    Looks to me like a desperate attempt to find something progressive to reclaim in Lovecraft.

    Also, Silicon Valley is not California.

  2. Alan September 11 2008 @ 7:59 pm

    He’s not making that point at all, in fact quite the opposite. You should read all three blog posts on the subject; it’s really interesting.

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