This post is intended as the first of a series of esoteric analyses (in the strict sense) of Nick Land’s text ‘No Future’, published in the Fanged Noumena collection (p. 391 on) and originally presented at a conference in 1995 (the first page is available here). In each of these analyses I will examine one paragraph, line, or smaller fragment of the text, drawing out its significance and implications as far as possible, even to the collapse of signification itself. My goal is not the arrogant explicatory one of illuminating the text directly, but an altogether darker hermeneutic: strategically, archaeologically, experimentally, to excavate the text’s symbolic content and see what might be found hiding underneath.
Before we proceed into this labyrinth, however, we ought to pause and appreciate the text’s Gothic–alien architecture at a distance. The symbolic, after all, does violence to its referent. If we’re not careful, it might all disappear.1
‘No Future’ proceeds according to the stadially numerised systole–diastole compression that is a preeminent characteristic of Ccru writings, beginning at pure zero and escalating in heartbeat heat-phases that echo the procession of civilisation it describes—[] (preface, text)—[] (—text)—[[ ]] (preface, text)—[] (preface, text). This false-positive indication of life is a perverse reflection of the victory of the living dead, the machinic abstraction of intelligence from organic life, which—as those familiar with it second-hand will know—the text intends to describe. Its rhythm draws us deep, far too deep, as soon as we step into its limits. Where ‘Meltdown’ (1994) merely put its point impatiently—‘Can what is playing you make it to level 2?’—‘No Future’ (1995) is not so kind: the ruinous machinery of the text is dragging us to level 2 whether we like it or not.
This violence of the text towards its reader only grows more horrific as we draw closer to the start. Let’s begin. The label ‘[[ ]] NO FUTURE [[1.343] []’, presented typographically as a subheading, is where the text kicks off: in Fanged Noumena it appears repetitiously below the chapter title ‘No Future’. The door inwards yawns before us here. The symbol [[ ]] recalls the set containing the empty set, the power-set move that Zermelo–Fraenkel set theory tells us kicks off the progression of natural numbers, but it mirrors also the bracketed void of the gateway Sinogram 門 (门, whose conjuncture with heaven and peace is now so conveniently associated in Western minds with blood and terror).
Read on to the end of the line. The title’s formatting recalls that of a computer programme, yet any decent programmer will see immediately that something has gone profoundly wrong. The brackets don’t match up. No bracket here; no bracket at the end of the text: an asymmetry insistent on its obscenity. Numerous explanations present themselves. A typographical error—the programme won’t compile. Perhaps it shows the text is cut off midway—a clever analogy, but tame as far as it goes.
Rewind. Examine the syntax: basic xenolinguistics. [] starts the section, recapitulating the format of the opening double brackets (問 is an inquiry). [1.343] is a label (unknown). NO FUTURE [ opens the declaration—a declaration that never ends.
Now the realisation. The bracket doesn’t close because the logic of ‘No Future’ engulfs everything: the end of the world is one big ]. Compile the programme and you’re already within the machine: it’s eating you alive. This isn’t a conference paper. It’s the Necronomicon. There’s no way out but through, and if it was ‘just an error’, even more reason to be worried. The text is running ahead of its author: no telling what it’s going to do.
Two out of three isn’t bad. But what about the unknown term? What is the meaning of [1.343]? The precise figure 1.343 appears nowhere else in the surviving Ccru corpus: we’re left to guess. It is the first of many elements whose semantic significance is radically undecidable, indicating the radically alien animus of the text—enough to drive Quine mad.
The constant π, of course, begins 3.141…, and continues to infinity. 1.343, transposing the 3 and 1, can therefore suggest an infinity that has somehow become impure, somehow gone radically wrong. When Hegel talked of a ‘bad infinity’, he meant infinity as endless mechanical repetition. This is a very good fit for ‘No Future’: not just for the exponentially automated mechanical replication of capital it describes, but for the text’s own internal semantic replication, its distorting consumption of thought (just look at this piece).
Other meanings arise. §343 of Nietzsche’s Gay Science—cited elsewhere by Land—declares that the death of God (the 1) has ‘already begun to cast its first shadows over Europe’. 343 is the perfect number seven cubed; in classical gematria, it is the value of both the Hebrew phrases ‘Ark of God’ and ‘And God said’. Here it is subordinated as a decimal beneath a (dying?) One. In new AQ, 343 stands for both ‘Ccru begins with Y2K’ and ‘The event is the date’—both gesturing to the disruption of the temporal infinite by the signifier. (343 also equals ‘Anime primitivism’.)
What these readings seem, hyperstitionally, to share is the same basic sense: infinity has gone wrong, and humanity is to blame.
[[ ]] NO FUTURE [[1.343] []
Read through this opening line again. What seems at first a series of aesthetic choices now reveals itself as a cypher vomiting significance. It represents a beginning, a gateway to zero warped by the moral failure of infinity. It (we) represents everything going very badly wrong. We represent, already, a drive towards the end of the world.
Let’s press on.
1 Borges, ‘Parable of the Palace’.