Non-Conceptual Negativity by Zafer Aracagök – a review

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I read Zafer Aracagök’s book Non-Conceptual Negativity: Damaged Reflections On Turkey  in September 2019, most of it on a long train journey, which was delayed by almost an hour. Since then, I have dipped in and out on multiple occasions, to look over specific sections that I resonate with especially. 

Published by the Open Source publisher Punctum Books, this analysis of “Neanderthal capitalism” and “nano-fascism” embodies what is perhaps both the best and worst quality of academic writing, with its unique array of terms and Zafer’s unconventional thought, which is not kind/easy on the reader. Zafer’s thought draws from the post-structuralist realm of continental philosophy, in particular that of Deleuze and Guattari – who have also influenced a great deal of my thought and approach to writing, with their concepts-as-bricks-to-smash-with energy/aesthetic.

What this provides the reader with is an arsenal of weaponised concept-bricks, for “somnambulist situationist” attacks against the “suicide bomber” father of Hegel/Trump/Erdogan/etc. In the section “somnambulist situationist manifesto” Zafer states –

” “Why”ing, not in order to get ready-made responses to daily media bombardements, and media intellectualisms, Somnambulist Situationists aim at miraculating a sleepwalker’s strategy to re-consider the Situationist Internationalist’s texts towards an un-negotiable, short-circuiting, non-identitarian, and especially a critically perverted position.”

With regards to my personal immediatist/eco-presentist philosophy, one of the sections that resonated most with my thought is the piece entitled Now. In this section, Zafer position’s opposition to hetronormativity within queerness as “now” – that is to be queer is to be living now. This resonates intensely with my personal experiences of becoming-animal, as a rejection of human-normativity that is Historical (in both directions), and the immediacy of (authentic) ecological-rebellion. I wasn’t surprised by this harmonising of spaces, as queer anti-humanism and environmentalist anti-humanism have seemed like places for unified-differentiation/differentiated-unity (as Guattari might have dreamed of).

Zafer for the most part appears to be attempting to shatter the Cotard’s delusion of cultures that have embraced the stupefying position of total submission to the voice of dictators/fathers/authorities who ultimately embody the suicide-bomber position – i.e. “hey guys, you are actually alive” – while hypnotising the dictator/father/authority. While not the manner by which environmentalists and anarchists are traditionally accustomed to thinking or reading or strategising, this somnambulist post-situationist tactic – which is perverse in ways that embody the non-socially-acceptable quality ecological rebellion and anarchist revolt desperately needs to embody, if the practices are to escape further usurpation and Spectaclisation by the machine-Leviathan – offers potential means of avoiding traps that seem to be set all around, capturing too many into that terrible cage of inclusion, where we are all zoo animals, making money for the zoo keepers.

The last thought of Zafer’s, from this wonderful, perverse, incendiary little book, that I will share here, again with particular relevance to the areas of discussion I am personally involved in, is this single sentence that is the entirety of the Animals section –

 “When it is understood that animals are constituted as singularities, humans will give up making documentaries on animals.”

How I interpret this thought is that, when we destroy the speciesist categories of non-human humanised stereotypes, we can recognise every living being as Uniquely them –  no-Things, as non-conforming to market-reification. In a non-conceptual sense, all beings, entities, phenomenon, whatever-word-you-like, is singularly them. Imagine David Attenborough doing a documentary where he spent the entire show going “here is a unique being interacting uniquely with other unique beings, through their processes of becoming-themselves” – he’d never be able to profit off of his alienating “nature” Spectacle if he did!

Even if you are not familiar with the realms of discourse that Zafer has drawn from, and seeks to defend through the work, I’d encourage anyone to give it a read – especially anarchists and eco-rebels! I’ll post the link to the page on Punctum’s website below –

Non-Conceptual Negativity: Damaged Reflections on Turkey


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