The Eclectics on Hyperstition. Collation Archives.


As Nick Land explains in the Catacomic, a hyperstition has four characteristics: They function as (1) an “element of effective culture that makes itself real,” (2) as a “fictional quality functional as a time-travelling device,” (3) as “coincidence intensifiers,” and (4) as a “call to the Old Ones”. The first three characteristics describe how hyperstions like the ‘ideology of progress’ or the religious conception of apocalypse enact their subversive influences in the cultural arena, becoming transmuted into perceived ‘truths,’ that influence the outcome of history. Finally, as Land indicates, a hyperstition signals the return of the irrational or the monstrous ‘other’ into the cultural arena. From the perspective of hyperstition, history is presided over by Cthonic ‘polytendriled abominations’ – the “Unuttera” that await us at history’s closure. The tendrils of these hyperstitional abominations reach back through time into the present, manifesting as the ‘dark will’ of progress that rips up political cultures, deletes traditions, dissolves subjectivities. “The [hu]man,” from the perspective of the Unuttera “is something for it to overcome: a problem, drag,” writes Land in Meltdown.

Exulting in capitalism’s permanent ‘crisis mode,’ hyperstition accelerates the tendencies towards chaos and dissolution by invoking irrational and monstrous forces – the Cthonic Old Ones. As Land explains, these forces move through history, planting the seeds of hyperstition:

John Carpenter’s In the Mouth of Madness includes the (approximate) line: “I thought I was making it up, but all the time they were telling me what to write.” ‘They’ are the Old Ones (explicitly), and this line operates at an extraordinary pitch of hyperstitional intensity. From the side of the human subject, ‘beliefs’ hyperstitionally condense into realities, but from the side of the hyperstitional object (the Old Ones), human intelligences are mere incubators through which intrusions are directed against the order of historical time. The archaic hint or suggestion is a germ or catalyst, retro-deposited out of the future along a path that historical consciousness perceives as technological progress.

The ‘Old Ones’ can either be read as (hyper)real Lovecraftian entities – as myth made flesh – or as monstrous avatars representing that which is most uncontainable and unfathomable; the inevitable annihilation that awaits all things when (their) historical time runs out. “Just as particular species or ecosystems flourish and die, so do human cultures,” explains Simon Reynolds. “What feels from any everyday human perspective like catastrophic change is really anastrophe: not the past coming apart, but the future coming together”.

Whatever its specific variants, the practice of hyperstition necessarily involves three irreducible ingredients, interlocked in a productive circuit of simultaneous, mutually stimulating tasks.

1. N u m o g r a m 
Rigorous systematic unfolding of the Decimal Labyrinth and all its implexes (Zones, Currents, Gates, Lemurs, Pandemonium Matrix, Book of Paths …) and echoes (Atlantean Cross, Decadology …). 

The methodical excavation of the occult abstract cartography intrinsic to decimal numeracy (and thus globally ‘oecumenic’) constitutes the first great task of hyperstition.

2. M y t h o s
Comprehensive attribution of all signal (discoveries, theories, problems and approaches) to artificial agencies, allegiances, cultures and continentities. 

The proliferation of ‘carriers’ (“Who says this?”) – multiplying perspectives and narrative fragments – produces a coherent but inherently disintegrated hyperstitional mythos while effecting a positive destruction of identity, authority and credibility. 

3. U n b e l i e f 
Pragmatic skepticism or constructive escape from integrated thinking and all its forms of imposed unity (religious dogma, political ideology, scientific law, common sense …). 
Each vortical sub-cycle of hyperstitional production announces itself through a communion with ‘the Thing’ coinciding with a “mystical consummation of uncertainty” or “attainment of positive unbelief.”

Conjuncted: Of Topos and Torsors


The condition that each stalk Fx be equivalent to a classifying space BG can be summarized by saying that F is a gerbe on X: more precisely, it is a gerbe banded by the constant sheaf G associated to G.

For larger values of n, even the language of stacks is not sufficient to describe the nature of the sheaf F associated to the fibration X~ → X. To address the situation, Grothendieck proposed (in his infamous letter to Quillen; see [35]) that there should be a theory of n-stacks on X, for every integer n ≥ 0. Moreover, for every sheaf of abelian groups G on X, the cohomology group Hn+1sheaf(X;G) should have an interpreation as sheaf classifying a special type of n-stack: namely, the class of n-gerbes banded by G. In the special case where the space X is a point (and where we restrict our attention to n-stacks in groupoids), the theory of n-stacks on X should recover the classical homotopy theory of n-types: that is, CW complexes Z such that the homotopy groups πi(Z, z) vanish for i > n (and every base point z ∈ Z). More generally, we should think of an n-stack (in groupoids) on a general space X as a “sheaf of n-types” on X.

When n = 0, an n-stack on a topological space X simply means a sheaf of sets on X. The collection of all such sheaves can be organized into a category ShvSet(X), and this category is a prototypical example of a Grothendieck topos. The main goal of this book is to obtain an analogous understanding of the situation for n > 0. More precisely, we would like answers to the following questions:

(Q1) Given a topological space X, what should we mean by a “sheaf of n-types” on X?

(Q2)  Let Shv≤n(X) denote the collection of all sheaves of n-types on X. What sort of a mathematical object is Shv≤n(X)?

(Q3)  What special features (if any) does Shv≤n(X) possess?

Our answers to questions (Q2) and (Q3) may be summarized as follows:

(A2)  The collection Shv≤n(X) has the structure of an ∞-category.

(A3)  The ∞-category Shv≤n(X) is an example of an (n+1)-topos: that is, an ∞-category which satisfies higher categorical analogues of Giraud’s axioms for Grothendieck topoi.

Grothendieck’s vision has been realized in various ways, thanks to the work of a number of mathematicians (most notably Jardine), and their work can also be used to provide answers to questions (Q1) and (Q2). Question (Q3) has also been addressed (at least in limiting case n = ∞) by Toën and Vezzosi

To provide more complete versions of the answers (A2) and (A3), we will need to develop the language of higher category theory. This is generally regarded as a technical and forbidding subject. More precisely, we will need a theory of (∞, 1)-categories: higher categories C for which the k-morphisms of C are required to be invertible for k > 1.

Classically, category theory is a useful tool not so much because of the light it sheds on any particular mathematical discipline, but instead because categories are so ubiquitous: mathematical objects in many different settings (sets, groups, smooth manifolds, etc.) can be organized into categories. Moreover, many elementary mathematical concepts can be described in purely categorical terms, and therefore make sense in each of these settings. For example, we can form products of sets, groups, and smooth manifolds: each of these notions can simply be described as a Cartesian product in the relevant category. Cartesian products are a special case of the more general notion of limit, which plays a central role in classical category theory.