Thursday, February 4, 2016

Cosmic Horror for Clever Animals is available now on Amazon!

The paperback edition of this blog’s central articles is available now on Amazon and Createspace. The book’s called Cosmic Horror for Clever Animals, it’s 774 pages, and it includes an index as well as an introduction and a short story that haven’t appeared anywhere else. Here’s the description from the back:

“Most times and places are lifeless. In a miniscule fraction of the vast outer reaches of time and space, life evolved and one out of millions of those species accidentally discovered the means to survey the cosmic vistas, to understand its nature and role in the universe. What awaits the prophets, mystics, artists, and other outsiders who face up to the humiliating truth is horror, a precondition of enlightenment.

“This dark existential philosophy, first formulated in the modern West by Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, and H.P. Lovecraft among others, clashes not just with the grotesque exoteric delusions of mainstream religions, but with the secular bromides of liberal humanism, New Atheist boosterism, and materialistic consumer culture.

“Anthologizing the central articles from the blog, Rants Within the Undead God, Cosmic Horror for Clever Animals lays out what is effectively the hidden, naturalistic wisdom of our species, explores the social conflict between the enlightened few and the less honourable many, and shows that there is a silver lining: not the option of collective suicide, contrary to nihilists, anarchists, and antinatalists, but the aesthetic perspective which allows us to perceive the tragic greatness of the best life. When we fulfill our godlike potential, we stand against the abomination of nature, replacing the nightmarish wilderness with our artificial refuges.”

Here are the links to purchase the book from American AmazonEuropean Amazon, and Createspace. (For some reason, buying a book on Createspace gives the author twice the royalties.)

Cheers!

14 comments:

  1. Ordered the book straight away Benjamin. Look forward to reading it.

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    1. Thanks, Joseph. Hope you find the book thought-provoking.

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  2. I've received my book already which is a pleasant surprise. It's a monstrous volume (winkwink, nudgenudge). You were forthright about all that was included and it shows, it's a doorstopper. It's well-made, tightly bound which is important for a paperback this size, with good clear pages. I wouldn't have minded seeing one of your illustrations as the front cover but the sober colors nicely highlight the title and the importance of the work. So that's my take on it as a 'thing'.

    I'm really glad you've covered the essential map of your ideas, similarly to what the site suggests. In discussing your work with others I've tried to illustrate it as an organic whole, or at least essential insights that are applied to several realms. This is a collection I would gladly show interested parties and I look forward to thinking and reflecting on these works again in this format. I've had the PDFs on a tablet for a while, but there's a difference in engaging a book, at least for someone who's formative years were exclusively lived with them.

    I sincerely hope the availability of this gets your thought some greater examination and brings you to dialogue with an even broader audience. I imagine it must be pleasing for you to see this tangible collection of your work. Very grateful you completed this project.

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    1. Thanks, Guthrie. The cover design is the same as that of Lewis Mumford's books, except with different colours. I started doing a drawing for the cover, but it would have taken too long and I wanted to get the book out.

      As I say in the introduction, it's fun to think of a dark book--like Ligotti's Conspiracy Against the Human Race--as a Necronomicon, even though the notion of a book of occult revelations is paradoxical. Just look at the incoherence of the notion of divine revelation: does God write the books directly or indirectly? Does God have hands with which to write? If he's omnipotent, he can do what he wants, but if he's transcendent and supernatural, he couldn't be restricted to a finite form. Jesus' incarnation was supposed to take on that paradox, but unfortunately Jesus never wrote anything (and probably wasn't an historical figure). What would a revelation of nature's horrific reality look like? Could it be linguistically contained?

      Actually, I don't yet have a copy of the book. I approved it based on the pdf proof. But I will order a copy just to have it sitting there on my bookshelf like a plump gargoyle.

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    2. Benjamin - I didn't make the Mumford connection, though now it makes sense and it's a fitting homage. My shelf contains an old hardcover copy of Myth Of The Machine, I see a little more the influence of his ideas in your essays on consumer society and the oligarchy. His ideas on the surveillance state seem so prescient.

      Maybe a supernatural revelation is paradoxical, it's at least a silly theory of authorship. Maybe we can just think of the roots of the word, occult, and imagine that some books hold secrets or potentially powerful passages, similar to the Necronomicon in that they might summon something in ourselves. Hidden and waiting for the right reader. I think many authors must hope for that, to bridge the gap that seems an unreachable chasm when we meet face to face as clever animals?

      The Conspiracy is an excellent example, I think it's become the Ur text of modern cosmicism. I had read so many authors who seemed to walk right up to the edge of what our modern predicament really means. Many of them offered outs, either as crypto-Platonists, or protected by the societal role they were writing from. I'm thinking of Schopenhauer and his Will (and even Forms!) or John Gray's Straw Dogs and the like, he gets it I think but he pulls away into literary reference sort of like an Oxford don. But that end portion of Ligotti's book, where he basically chants hopelessness at you not like some insult, but as an exultation to realize the big empty space you are standing in all the time..I don't know, it hit me like a revelation. Almost like a naturalistic mystical experience, I distinctly remember setting the book down and feeling panic. No Lovecraft (or Ligotti fiction, really) ever left me feeling that way.

      It puts me in mind of that story William James tells about being in an asylum, and meeting a patient green with sickness, totally dumb, day after day with his legs pulled in and he realized, this is me, this is all of us. James escaped it most the time he said by exercising his freedom and stressing how that was a blessing that could lead us away from despair, that we could act. Maybe he's a cosmicist existentialist in that moment.

      Despite calling Jesus the Logos, it's hard for me to fathom that paradox being solved there too. I've heard and read so many theological dancing on the pins to solve that twisted puzzle..I don't know what to say, certainly no rant as good as your Comedy of Theism to describe how maddening it is to be surrounded by Cadillac Christians. The last Christian died on the cross? No, the first person to make up the fiction of Christ was named Paul? Who cares, it does not pull at us so it's no solution, it's dunking our heads in sand.

      Anyhow, buy yourself a copy of the book, you'll make a royalty and it's really nice, I like how far an author's print to demand service has come.

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    3. The cover design is an homage to Mumford, but it's also an excuse to do a quick cover with some symbolic colours. I don't follow Mumford (or anyone) on everything, but I like what he says about creativity in the first volume of Myth of the Machine. I'm also impressed by his vocabulary and writing style and by the scope of his work.

      The idea of a Necronomicon is useful, I think, for getting at the strangeness of the idea of truth itself. If we're pragmatic about truth, it makes sense to speak only of mundane matters, since language becomes just a tool for pointing roughly not at facts themselves, but at our conceptions of them. What sort of book, though, could contain the ultimate, final truth, a set of scribbles that relates in some special way to the deepest reality? How could a mere book do that? That's the paradox, which is why believers treat the bible not as a book but as a magical object, as a totem or amulet. It's also why mystics think that language can do no such thing and that only direct experience relates us to divine truth.

      I agree that writing can stir the emotions. A naturalistic mystical experience would be pretty cool or perhaps eerie. That's Lovecraft's stated goal, not to portray believable characters or to work out complex plots, but just to get across a sense of strangeness to the reader.

      Thanks very much for reading, Guthrie.

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  3. Is there any chance you could make Cosmic Horror available for Kindle as well, or is that a byzantine process of its own?

    I want to pick up the book, but would wait on an e-text if one were to be produced.

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    1. I could make an ebook out of it, but I already put out free pdfs of all the main articles. The idea here was to finally put together a paperback copy. The free ebooks are found at the link below. I'll see about turning Cosmic Horror for Clever Animals into an ebook too, though.

      http://rantswithintheundeadgod.blogspot.ca/search/label/E-books

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    2. Thanks Ben. I bought your book yesterday regardless. I appreciate the work you've been doing, and hoped for sometime you might put out a book.

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  4. Also, I'm not sure why something like liberal humanism can't be an aesthetically pleasing artificial refuge, as long as it's understood as such.

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    1. I'm not entirely opposed to liberalism or secular humanism. From a quasi-Spinozist perspective, absolutely everything, including all ideas and worldviews, can be appreciated simply as creations and thus as artworks. In that case, we could judge them by aesthetic criteria. I think orthodox Christianity, for example, is an ugly compromise of a religion on aesthetic grounds.

      Modern humanism culminated in Nietzsche's "postmodern" critique, which leaves liberals and humanists in an awkward position. The trick is to hold onto those modern values despite postmodern incredulity towards all metanarratives or myths. For example, when President Obama speaks his liberal platitudes, only the most politically correct beta folks find them stirring. The rest, who are siding with Bernie Sanders, Cruz or Trump, are perfectly cynical about such pablum, the problem being that there's overwhelming reason to doubt the assumptions that make up the myths underlying Obama's superficial liberal or humanistic policies. (They're all superficial, since he's really a realistic centrist like Hillary Clinton.) And that sort of hypocrisy makes liberalism or secular humanism off-putting from an aesthetic viewpoint.

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    2. I mean humanism in the sense of entailing some kind of disinterested public good. Bernie Sanders, if sincere, might be considered a humanist of this type. The kind of humanism that isn't a lie of the cynical alpha, but a sincere attempt to by individuals to forge a public good. You could call it democracy. However improbable, would you consider the notion that the people, as individuals in concert, are the sole legitimate source of government to be an ugly artwork to attempt? Keep in mind that market forces are largely undead, and placing the market above any kind of higher order thinking may well be the reason the current world is in such shambles. So, is attempting some kind of humanist, democratic revival of the social contract an ugly piece of art from the get go? Or might it possess a tragic nobility? (Consider that higher order thought on such a scale would require self-denial, prudence, and other non-infantile/automatic qualities)

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    3. Sorry for the lateness of this reply, Matthew. I've been under the weather the last few weeks.

      In theory, the idea of democracy, of majority rule, is best justified by liberalism, which in turn is the idea that each individual is sovereign, meaning each has the right to self-rule, because each individual is essentially godlike, being conscious, rational, free, and thus creative.

      In practice, democracy is in conflict with certain natural dynamics such as the dumbing down of society due to demagogues, unless the education system is maintained. Also, the equality you need for democracy is in conflict with the hierarchies that naturally form due to the law of oligarchy and our instincts for pecking orders.

      Is it ugly to attempt to go against nature and maintain some equality between individuals so that they deserve to vote, so that in being sovereign in a democracy, each voter is making wise decisions about her society's long-term goals, as opposed to putting another nail in that society's coffin? This is the essence of what I rather provocatively call "satanic/promethean art": our best art is original (anomalous) and thus anti-natural. What's ugly is when we try only half-heartedly to resist natural impulses, when, for example, hardly any eligible Americans vote in their elections. That's depressing; it makes you lose faith that "miracles" can happen. When demagogues take over, as they've obviously done now in the Republican Party, you see "people" acting as animals who ought to lose the right to vote. They're no longer equal to authentic people, psychologically or ethically speaking.

      What would a humanist revival look like? Bernie Sanders seems to be starting one, but it doesn't look good for him. He's way too old and slow and POLITE to be leading that revolution when the US seems on the precipice of an apocalyptic downturn. Symbolically, Sanders is bad for humanistic business, because he makes social democracies look obsolete.

      What I emphasize on RWUG is that authentic humanists ought to be somewhat ascetic. Again, the artistry/originality in question must happen in opposition to natural tendencies or else natural hierarchies win out and we fall back into animal habits.

      By the way, I recently read an interesting article on the difference between democracy and liberalism:

      https://aeon.co/essays/the-marriage-of-democracy-and-liberalism-is-not-inevitable

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    4. Thanks for your reply, Ben. I'm sorry you've been sick. And thanks for the essay. I'm about to fall asleep, so I might reply more fully tomorrow. But briefly, in case it wasn't clear I more or less agree with your idea that beauty lies in opposing natural hierarchies, rather than falling in line with them.

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