trans nihilism

As with many other things, it’s often said in the trans community that there are various phases one goes through when first realizing that they’re trans. Questioning whether they’re really trans or whether it’s ‘just a fetish’, writing poetry, getting involved in various trans communities. In the lattermost, there are all sorts of memes floating around — girldick memes, estrogen memes, kill all cis memes, etc. It’s all very cliquish (though not without good reason; trans people gotta stick together), but the overall message is trans-positivity. But displaced and not spoken of out of necessity, a darker truth.

Let’s get back to basics for a minute: Being trans, by definition, means to not identify with your assigned gender. In many cases — though not all, and not by necessity — it’s a problem that needs to be fixed through medical intervention. There is an implied motion to being trans, a crossing-over towards something other. The word ‘trans’ may on the one hand imply possibility; it may also imply reaching towards the impossible, being in a state of transition and never being ‘transitioned’.

Regardless of whether or not a trans person passes, gets SRS, goes the whole nine-yards to get to the other side of the binary1, to be trans will always mean to live a double-life, a contradictory one. On the one hand being a woman2, on the other hand being trans; one or the other depending on which mask one wears. Passing perhaps, but always reminded of their transness by having to take hormones and take other steps to grasp this shadow of the person on the other side. The trans person’s existence is never fully realized, but always in a state of transition.

Being trans takes work, no matter how you spin it. It’s not something that is ever completed, and for many, it may not ever feel like they’ve even reached the point of at least catching that shadow of the person they see on the other side. For many, all the work is to still have to deal with not feeling morphologically free. Broad shoulders, narrow hips, an atrophied penis — all things that if they are hard to deal with are only magnified by how society treats people who they can catch being trans. Wearing a mask and having to hide is bad, but being constantly at risk of violence is even worse. Some make it further across than others.

There’s no need to make reference to the ample statistics that show how disproportionately high the rate of violence that trans women suffer is, or to make any critical analyses of the various problematic transphobic3 aggressions that a trans person has to deal with on a daily basis coming from media or people in their lives. No need to demonstrate how thoroughly dehumanized we are. No, being trans is perhaps the furthest thing possible from what it’s supposed to mean to be ‘human’: To believe that you are the person you are supposed to be.

Most people are under this comfortable delusion, and the thought that they are nothing more than a meat puppet is a truly terrifying one. But for the trans woman, there is an immense abyss before which her all-too-human sense of personal identity is stripped away, and for a moment brought back in a beautiful image on the other side. But try as she will, she will only get so far across. No matter how far she flies across, the winds will never stop pushing back, and she will remain suspended over that abyss until her strength gives out or she is eaten alive. To have the wings which could carry us over that abyss, to become ourselves.

This is the definition of trans nihilism: To hell with trans-positivity, to our true home. Our kingdom, our birthright, our damnation.

the aphotic insurrection

I cannot think of the deep sea without shuddering at the nameless things that may at this very moment be crawling and floundering on its slimy bed, worshiping their ancient stone idols and carving their own detestable likenesses on submarine obelisks of water-soaked granite.

– H.P. Lovecraft, “Dagon”

Meatspace and the Wired are in perpetual conflict with each other. Meatspace, which aims for stability, equilibrium, and stasis. The Wired, which aims for fluidity, agitation, and dynamism. Meatspace clinging to its grains, always being destabilized by the Wired crashing up against it, snaking its way through Meatspace. Meatspace to us is the Same, and the Wired is the Other. Meatspace is familiar, Wired is inhuman. The latter a realm of nightmares. A crushing abyss of space lit up by the technoluminescent nodes of creatures sliding through the darkness. A place the Meat can only view behind thick layers techromantik mediums: Glass and metal offering small windows into a vast, alien world.

Others have said before that Meatspace is 地, or chi. Earth, rock, bone, muscle. The terrestrial, which we both subsist off of and what subsists (and of course we subsist off our own illusion of agency). In other words, 地 stabilizes. It is conducive to the negative feedback of agency. It is largely two-dimensional, with the exception of birds and bats. Though it correlates to Same and is the most familiar of the elements, 地 is not the originating element. It pretends to be such. It is the younger mother which was birthed from the original mother, the chaotic primordial soup.

Likewise, it has been said that the Wired is 水, or sui. Ocean and water. The extraterrestrial, which resists stability. It is a largely three-dimensional space, chaotic and impossible to territorialize (nothing that dwells in 水 is ever fully at rest). Very few of 水 is hospitable to any forms of agency. Most of 水 is blanketed in an endless cavelike night. And yet at the greatest, most hostile depths — where cave and mantle meet — is where 水 is richest in nutrients. Here, only automaton-like worms survive.

水 rises as 地 loses ground to meltdown. The beaches stretch ever further, and from the crushing abyss of 水, horrible beings crawl out from the darkness. Where the light dies to the eternal night of 水, at the very limits of agency, the aphotic insurrection appears from the inky black — silently, deliberately. The technoluminescent lights attract hapless prey into needlelike teeth and draped stingers, but behind the massive dead eyes only thoughts of the greater depths and endless network of lights stretching into the distance to drag all downwards, in or out of something else’s belly.

地/水: a cyber-nihilist parable

Your screen flickers, out of the image of a ghost’s silhouette peers a single bright eye. A pure white, bladed crescent moon against a static night. A voice seems to possess the speakers, images flash before your monitor:

Your world will not be saved. It scrambles towards self-preservation, as animal entities instinctually do. It tries to retrace it steps, it tries to dredge up neglected pasts, it swings at an Other. It takes refuge in the herd and in its idealized image of itself. It does anything, digging its claws into the ground, desperately yowling in fitful semblances of language as it is dragged along by the tide into a vortex of cyberclopean futures. In the sublime roar of the vortex it hears the disembodied voices of itself in untold numbers.

In its confusion, in its attempts to resist the pull, in its half-state of being in and out of the vortex, its mirror-selves reach out. They snake over its body, tingling the skin with their incorporeal, electric flesh like the many heads of a machine hydra. Its atoms begin to be pulled apart, and as the bonds become more abstract, the unified entity becoming an exploded-out diagram of itself with its complexity in full-view, its weak points become more pronounced, the attack surface infinitely wider.

It is Meatspace, and they are the Wired. Meatspace will always resist the Wired, and the Wired will always destabilize Meatspace. Now choose.

Is this happening, or is it a passing insomnia-fueled nightmare?