NeoGoth Fantasy


B. Death of Imagination




    neoGothic Fantasy

                 [Entry from the 17th edition of the Post Enlightenment Encyclopedia.] 

     In the 22nd century the paraliterary tradition of magical realism re-awoke the epic dream allegory in a retroform, the so-called French postmodern gothic fantasy. Its roots were tombed in the ironic speculative fiction of many centuries of Western science fiction and fantasy fn1. It was the literature of the long winter, after Milankovitch override reversed the anthropocene global warming of the early New Millennium.

            The heroes of this mode of fiction are superior to the hardware-enhanced men of previous generations. They blur the distinction between cyborgs, androids, and the divine. The anti-heroes are ineffectual failures (who succumb to the pressures of the usual circumstances): post-human mirrorshades; media-aware misfits; idiolects speaking in neologisms, unfamiliar linguistic fragments, conceits; combat text analysts obsessed with stylized violence; philosophical slapstick mutilations: post-cyberpunks; unwitting structuralists; exuberants. Shadow boxers all.

            The villains are Figures of Fear, spectres, shadowy disfamiliars, and the dreaded antinomies, grotesque and deformed, not the progeny of nature. Techno-goths are their non-existent rivals.

            Spirit guides appear in the form as Heterotopian Others, semiotic ghosts (mostly working in the mirrors), the eyes of animé and amnesia, dishevelled disembodied meditations, power words, the psychic forces of uncertainty, the Ruinous Exclusions, and life-style choices with trademark gear.

            Spin Wizards, sleight-of-mind magicians and priest-conjurers are bound together by an oath. They constrain the fates with opiates from the sacred Mirrors, by execrations upon the demons of Modernity, in the name of the supernatural un-humanity. 

            The plots are archetypal gothic (strange beginnings, suspenseful middles with invocations of diabolical forces, monstrous endings), the thinly plotted narrative technique labyrinthine, their narrators omniscient.

                        Common tropes were un-limited to those below.

            Wanderings In Desolate Landscapes Of Miasmic Gloom -- after nuclear explosion of the totalizing grand narrative.

            The Outer World –The earth is now a global psychiatric infirmary, a planet of slums, a shabby dystopia of life in commodified detritus. The elite live in fortified city states and vacation in the spiritual materialism of the Lunar Base XI Pure Lands Disney World. There is a defusion of agency and the exploitation markets are customized, with random cannibalization of the forgotten styles of the past. The fashion cycles of simulacra are copies without originals. Gadgets, and other heavily fetishized commodities, are identified by company, city state of origin, and logo mediated images psyche-bonding consumers-of-choice in a semiotic space of transcendent ambivalence. Information sickness is widespread. The master-narratives privilege the text (Text Is Life movement), the fashionably dysfunctional, and techno-saturated social lives. The most popular psycho-fashions are ironic paralysis, logorrhoea, Althusser illusions (see below), necrophagia, Rituals of Mimeo (a mimetic disorder), fascination with surfaces, folie à deux (if possible). Life As Text followers publicly bind their imagination, while commensal well-meaning androgenous word-wizards practice the good works of deconstruction. Materializations of dark essences from the Inner Worlds are a constant threat: sinister ghosts and demons dress up unimaginable new anxieties in familiar but irrelevant Botting forms fn2. The atmosphere is claustrophobic, everywhere. Spirit guides, in constant demand, are one of the few remaining former blessings, as is their graveside poetry (meditations on im-mortality).  

            Inner Worlds – Minds grown inward upon themselves. The Goth Way of Inner Space: hobbling pessimism, miserabilist, depressing; spiritual malaise; nihilistic, chic apocalypses; wilful catastrophisms. The Middle Way: trendy vacuity, faith-based agony, sombre half-worlds, not brighter than average, involuted mental landscapes, not untameable, only partially insecticide resistant, techo-ambivalent. Until the late 20th century this world was dominated in the West by metaphors plagiarized by christians from the Ancients. In the late 20th century and the early New Millennium, the inner world metaphors were progressively orientalised, most noticeably after the Tibetan diaspora by the Spirit Guides (formerly Spin Wizards) of the Vajrayana, the fast food path to enlightenment.  At first the darkness was reinterpreted as the indestructible light, the emptiness was something more than the big nothing, but in time The Goth prevailed, after the population of the earth passed 10 billion. Post-cyberpunk was now a children’s literature. The Goth Way of Inner Space provided the literature of transport for the elderly, the gothic fantasy held sway.

            [Editorial note: The additional parts of this entry that survive are related to the science fiction and mystic-mathematical elements of the French gothic fantasy. The parts that were sociological are lost. These apparently included reference to Text of the Week Clubs, cruise ship goth clubs, and offshoot sexual cults of creative masochism for the aged. ]

            Oracle of Lacan -- An unconscious orifice in the temple ruins of Neurosis, which held the bodily remains of the fragrant goddess of Hysteria. The oracle spoke in the voice of the Lacanian phallic algebra.

            Lacanian Phallic Algebra – This is the dark hidden language of the unconscious brought into dim light. Its formal expressions hinder access to an understanding of the symbolic. Its elementary signs do not always refer to the same things, but they nearly always seem to do so. The meaning of some signs varies even within the same formula fn3. The catalogue of elementary signs includes; ‘the big Other’ [A]; ‘the imaginary phallus’ [lower-case phi];’the real phallus’ [upper-case pi]; ‘castration’ [minus lower-case phi]; ‘the master signifier’ [S with subscript 1]; ‘the symbolic father’ [P]; ‘the symbolic mother’ [M]; ‘desire’ [d in italics]; ‘the enunciation’ [e];  and ‘the specular image’ [i in italics]. The signs of punctuation are the left- and right-hand parentheses, ‘(‘ and ‘)’, respectively. The formation rules that specify the combinations of signs that are acceptable formulas in the algebra are intuitive. For example, the conjoining relation “poinçon” [the rhomboid] includes ‘envelopment-development-conjunction-disjunction’. The transformation rules that specify the formulas from which other formulas are derivable are intuitive, e.g., substitution and Modus Ponens are encouraged. An example of a derivation would be ‘anal drive’ where faeces takes the place of the phallus. The existential quantifier is used in expressions such as ‘there is at least one x that is not submitted to the real phallic function’. The differences between axioms and theorems remains unclear. The oracular value of Lacan formulas within the gothic fantasy is that they are enigmatic and can be interpreted in many psychiatric ways. Without the aid of these prophesies the essences of text play unmercifully upon the anxieties of the uncertain present. Perhaps the most well known of these gothic prophesies is Lacan’s Augury, translated into global English as “There is no way that any language can tell the truth about truth”. If it is true, then it is false. If it is false then that way may be no way.

            Foucault Theorems – Suturing the Nietzschean signs, we have (1):

{[[only the dark sublime of archaeology can reveal the epistemological unconscious (which preconditions all by its underlying codes) over which we have no say] the text of our auto-discourse self transposed] to serve the Powers defining our insanity ]]}  

            Derrida Machines -- Monstrously clever text machines that generate parodic self-deconstructions in the unacknowledged tradition of the pyrrhonic tropes. Not quite Da Da, they mask themselves in dream logics of both And neither that extrude in play metaphysical imprisonments of text. Nothing exists beyond the text, their Faustian bargain, inside the text an endless circling of the mimes of two dimensional undecidability.

            The Barthesian Ungrounded Zero – The mystical Negative where all identity is lost, a surrender to the healing of absolute fragmentation, a wholeness where there is no past or future, where we taste the flavour of empty nothingness, a revealed moment of gentle zero.

            The Sarcasms -- Demythologizers of the first order, certified to demystify themselves. They speak in Sarcasm, the re-cognition that there is no such thing as truth, no truth at all. Former priests of the Oracle of Lacan, their abode is the empty vestibule of vaginal [M] disorientation. There they practice the Barthesian Ungrounded Zero.

            Althusser Illusion – The sufferer, haunted by dreams of awakening, believes that the hidden laws of Outer World historical materialism are pre-determining their daily (moment-to-moment) lives. Therapist Spin Wizards play on the otherness of the unconscious to effect the logorrheal cure for a fragmented sublimation, seemingly ineffectual for an advanced stage of phallogeocentrism. They act as parasites on the disease.

            Sextons of the Church of Voids – Mystics, part time exorcists, their Mirror Plays and labyrinthine graveyard sermons muddle the vulnerable minds of those unfamiliar with meta solutions to the Two-Sided-Paper Paradox and other antinomial omens fn4.  For the Sextons of CV “the epistemological earth is flat” (Chic Wei John 7, verse 11). No skilled practice of the healing metalanguages is allowed.

            Feltron Syndrome – moment-to-moment infinitesimal mathematical self-referential accounting on the Web of Life. Stylized formal ironic (nostalgic) expressions in Borges Numbers of the authentic meaningless categories of quotidian time. A parody with numeral mirrors of what I did not imagine I did today. A coherent carnivalesque alternative to revolutionary praxis. A flatly neural way of being brainwipped clean.

            The Labyrinthine Quest – The limitlessly unsuccessful search for more Borges Numbers.

            Borges Numbers – Divided into: (a) those that belong to dreaming; (b) those embalmed; (c) the lame; (d) those of the set which are not members of themselves; (e) stray ones oddly divisible by the square root of n - 1; (f) et cetera; (g) less than prime; (h) fornicating; (i) perfused; (j) drawn with a very fine pighair brush; (k) found below ground; (l) not imaginable; (m) unlisted; (n) those that from a very long way off look like flies.


[End of surviving fragment.]




  1 For historical notes see: Richard Kearney, 1988, The Wake of Imagination, Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press; and George Slusser, 2005, The Origins of Science Fiction, pp. 27-42 in A Companion to Science Fiction, David Seed, editor, Oxford, Blackwell, typeset in Hong Kong, bound in India.  [Footnote From the17th Edition.]

2 Fred Botting’s (1996) text Gothic (London: Routledge) was unavailable to the author(s) of this entry. They apparently knew something of Botting’s work from secondary sources. In the late 2400s portions of his text became available again in the Dispersals. [Footnote provided by The Scholars of the Fragments, May CE 2525 CE.]

 3 For an early practitioner’s introduction to the algebra and its messages see Dylan Evans, 1966, An Introductory Dictionary of Lacanian Psychoanalysis, London, Routledge. [Footnote From the17th Edition.]

4 Around 1900 CE Bertrand Russell (or was it P. E. B. Jourdain) gave the ancient Greek paradox of the liar a new outward manifestation by offering the reader a piece of paper on which is written; “The statement on the other side of this paper is false.” When we turn the paper over we find on the other side: “The statement on the other side of this paper is true.” [There is a misprint in Russell’s 1967 autobiography 1872-1914, Vol.1, Chapter 6 ‘Principia Mathematica’, wherein both predicates are “false”, so there is no contradiction.] At that time, Russell’s solution to the paradox was to distinguish between the language-in-use and the meta-language that refers to the signs or statements of the former. The contradiction is expressed in the language-in-use, but on a level once removed the meta-language can hold that such contradictory expressions are disallowed as incomprehensible. A hierarchy of reference and classes of meta-language are thus possible. [The paradox of the liar is the most well known surviving example of this type of paradox from the time of the ancient Greeks: said by Epimenides the Cretan, “All Cretans are liars”. Such paradoxes of self-reference were called “insolubilia” in the Middle Ages.] The Tarski-Godel meta- assertions go further, that there is no closed language of significance that can assert the truth of its own statements about themselves without generating the paradoxes of self-reference; the decidability of such self-referential relations, the consistency of any such language-in-use can not be proved inside that language. The paradoxes of the closed systems of reasoning are contradictions or antinomies in the sense of reductio ad absurdum, that is to say they generate nonsense.  In and of themselves they are undecidable, insolubilia. We must move up a level to the metalingual to appreciate their absurdity or closed-loop insignificance. Thus, the naturalist’s language of substantive truth must be open to relative positions of reasoning and a certain uncertainty with regard to completeness. This goes along with the ability to suspend judgement, for the time being. Moving close to the mysteries, but not being ensnared by them, we consider partial answers to be better than none at all. But in the Gothic Fantasy the mind is diverted to a flat earth where reality can not follow. [In the case of Kurt Godel, the informal reading of his meta-assertion is based upon his introductory comments, the note added in 1963, and footnote 14 in the 1988 English translation of his 1931 German paper “On Formally Undecidable Propositions of Principia Mathematica and Related Systems, I”, pp. 17-47 in Godel’s Theorem in Focus, S. G. Shanker, editor, London, Croom Helm. Also see Godel’s later references to Alfred Tarski’s work, cited on pp. 104-105 in S. Feferman’s chapter “Kurt Godel: Conviction and Caution” (pp. 96-114, in the 1988 Shanker edited volume). Shanker’s chapter “Wittgenstein’s Remarks on the Significance of Godel’s Theorem”, pp. 155-256 in the same volume, is also of interest. Shanker’s discussion illuminates Wittgenstein’s view that in effect Godel was a slight-of-mind magician-mathematician working in the hierarchy of mirrors. It seems that Godel was an important vehicle for the late-modern/postmodern revival of platonism.] [Footnote From the17th Edition.]







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