Lightning Storm Mind – a review

An individual cannot read the same Lightning Storm Mind: Pre-Ancientist Meditations twice, because it is not the same book and they are not the same individual.

Written by Max Cafard and published by Autonomedia, it is a disordered collection of disordered fragments, exploring the ideas in the fragments left by the philosopher Heraclitus, through an approach that Cafard calls anarchography – “anarchography is the writing of the universal, the particular and, not least of all, the singular.”

The philosophical approach Cafard uses is one of speculative surrealism, or object disoriented ontology, where surrealism is considered a surge of Real – “Reality was really bad, while it lasted” “after the death of reality comes life. Life, not the reality of life”. I feel a deep appreciation for this approach Cafard uses, as his encouraging the reader to “… vomit up Reality and live” is very similar to the ideas in my Feral books.

Cafard situates Heraclitus as a destructive rebel philosopher (perhaps an ontological anarchist?) – “our ancestor, in his assault on reality, laid the foundationless foundations of surreality. or perhaps he deliberately mislaid them. the “sur” in surrealism implies “getting beyond,” or “evading” the clutches of realism. It should be read as both “above” and “below,” in addition to every other direction of escape from the oppressive Pernicious Prison of reality”. Through his readings of Heraclitus, Cafard presents an eco-(ontological-)anarchist philosophy that is a beautiful challenge towards the “Dissectarianism” ideology that embodies the reductionism of mass-extinction dehabitation culture – “Civilization will never give up its War on terra.” “our ancestor announced the undawning nightmare of Civilization.” “our ancestor, with Pre-ancientist eyes, saw history as a nightmare into which all are trying desperately to unawaken. our ancestor’s pre-ancientist project is nothing more than our reconciliation with the awakened eye of the Child.” “everyone since who has not opted out of reality, that is, everyone immersed in history, has been in interminable treatment for an incorrigible case of ancientism. We the Civilized.” “So we come to the end of the road, the end of the rope, called Civilization. The end of history. The Kingdom of ends. The end of Kingdoms” “Civilization is Unconscious Catastrophe becoming Self-Conscious. Slowly. Catastrophically slowly.”

Cafard also uses Heraclitus’s thought to challenge some of the weaker ideas within ecological thought – “it is not only the waters of the same river that are always different. The same river is itself also never the same. There is no “river-structure” that endures. There are no engineers of Corpses who can build a “river-structure” to protect its watery essence from the flow of the “new waters.”” “our ancestor understood that nature breaks all of her own laws. Where one seeks “rhythmic alternation” one often finds arhythmic non-alternation. Not all poles are opposites and not all opposites are poles. Nature’s orderly disorder is a discordant harmony. The image of harmony imposed on the surface of things disguises the anarchic harmony at the heart of things”. Through Cafard’s thoughts on Heraclitus, the reader receives an insight into the living world that is not as shallow as social ecology, as mythical as deep ecology, or as object-oriented-ontological as dark ecology, but is a process-ecology, that is far less perceptually-tame (perhaps madness), but more honest with its relentless uncertainty.

There are a few areas where I disagree with Cafard. I agree with him that “We all have a ghost Problem”, but his claim that “hauntology is destiny” I find to bad faith and a disappointing blocking in the rebellious flows of his thought – as it stinks of Historical-civilisational absolutism. For similar reasons, when Cafard claims “(t)he only re-course is to re-start the flows: dialectic and revolution”, I find myself disappointed – my sympathy towards Cratylus’ intensification of Heraclitus’ thought is more inclined towards the position that (the spoken) dialectics ultimately collapse into (pre-linguistic) ineffability; and the progressivism of revolutionary praxis seems to me to be the violation of the pre-ancient. These are only small moments of disagreement, but felt worth commenting on them, given how brilliant the rest of the collection is.

Anyone who has appreciated my Feral Consciousness and/or Feral Iconoclasm would sincerely appreciate the pre-ancientistmediatations Cafard presents to the reader. Of course, they will not be reading the same Lightning Storm Mind as I have and they will not be the same individual after reading it. The depth of its beauty is matched by how devastating it is.

“… only fools, the non-wise, succumb to the illusion of control”

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