What follows is a heavily modified reconstruction of the draft that eventually turned into the Gender Acceleration Black Paper. It has been changed so much and updated to suit the directions my thought went since mid-2017 when G/ACC 1.0 was written that it is nearly an entirely new essay, but many of the original interests that lead me to where I am now are present. Having just recently read Torrey Peters’ Infect Your Friends and Loved Ones after nearly three years of knowing about it and nearly three years of transitioning, it is uncanny how much of it resonates both with where I was back then and where I am now.
Whatsoever the mind perceives IN ITSELF, or is the immediate object of perception, thought, or understanding, that I call IDEA; and the power to produce any idea in our mind, I call QUALITY of the subject wherein that power is.
-John Locke, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding 2.8.8
In what follows at this point in his philosophical treatise, John Locke would delineate his theory of primary and secondary qualities – those which are inherent to objects, and those which are created in the minds of humans who perceive them. In the history of western philosophy this is more or less where the substance debate in metaphysics comes to an end, with Hume’s radical empiricism making any such treatment of irreducible concepts inconsistent with the rest of his philosophy, and with Kant’s critical philosophy denouncing the dogmatism of his predecessors for making claims about things we have no business talking about (noumena). Few philosophers have realized that Kant’s philosophy ultimately rendered all of philosophy obsolete and impossible, at least in the sense that philosophy is traditionally understood.
The classic fable of philosophy and possibly the most famous one is Plato’s allegory of the cave, which defined a narrative for all western philosophy to come wherein the task of philosophy is to escape the world of illusion and see the light of truth. The association of light with truth undoubtedly resonated with Plato on a deeper archetypical level that has been inherent in humans since they huddled around fires to seek shelter from the cold darkness of the night that hid predators. But as is already implicit in Locke’s qualities and Kant’s phenomena, the Apollonian worship of the light is only the worship of the mind’s interpretation of whatever noumena lurks in the darkness.
Light as modern physics understands it has the qualities of both a wave and a particle in some senses yet is neither a wave nor particle in others, and what we perceive as light is merely a visible portion of the electromagnetic spectrum. Specifically we might think of light as white light, which is nothing more than all the colors of the visible spectrum combined. This is known as the additive model of color. In this model, all color is derived from an original pure oneness: The truth of white light, emanating from the sun onto our earthly plane. Or, rather, all color except for pink, which does not technically exist in the additive color model.
The absence of all color, and thus the absence of all truth, is black, and in the classical Platonic dialogue that has come to define so much of western thought, the earthly, chthonic light of fire is nothing more than a deceptive imitation of truth. But there is another, cthonic color model derived not from light but from pigment, the subtractive color model. In the subtractive color model, whiteness/purity/truth is not a unity that is arrived at by subordinating all difference into a plane of the same, but rather is the absence of any color. And the combination of all colors produces black.
We are not looking to create a better system, for we are not interested in positive politics at all. All we demand in the present is a relentless attack on gender and the modes of social meaning and intelligibility it creates.
-Alyson Escalante, “Gender Nihilism: An Anti-Manifesto”
There can be no acceleration without negation, but negation without acceleration and acceleration without negation will both invite in entropy.
Gender nihilism is possibly the furthest extreme in a certain direction in queer theory if queer theory is defined along this axis of acceleration and negation – either a desire to affirm queerness or to deconstruct and abolish it. This might not seem obvious since one could argue that most of queer theory is therefore accelerationist, but this is not the case. No matter what happens, you’re going to die anyways, though one dies in particular ways depending on which path they take. We’ll return to the overly-accelerated system in a moment.
Gender nihilism expresses a commonly held desire amongst the post-left milieu that it (by my guess) originated from: A desire for authenticity. Perhaps due to being an offshoot of existentialism, thus phenomenology, and thus the miserable condition of being confined to the world of phenomena and forced to find solace in this only to eventually realize with poststructuralism that there is no possibility for authenticity in the world of phenomena, the desire for authenticity can only result in total negation. Capitalism, gender, race, technology, society as a whole, all of it has to be annihilated in order for there to be any possibility of authenticity. Unlike other post-left pieces, and this is where it’s more intelligent than other similar theories, gender nihilism is fully aware that the Self is constituted by various impersonal cultural processes beyond our control and that authenticity is impossible, and doesn’t conclude from this that returning to hunter-gatherer societies would fix this as the most extreme pro-authenticity variants of post-leftism advocate for. This obviously puts it at an impasse with queer theory, being that so much of it is defined in terms of Self and identity. So where can one go from here?
The answer is essentially: Nowhere. This is the upshot of the gender nihilist manifesto, which might seem like an indictment of it, but on the contrary it’s easily the most brilliant moment of it. Like all other self-described nihilist tendencies in the post-left milieu, the brilliance of gender nihilism is that it demonstrates that all the projects of the left have been wrong and are doomed to destruction. The problem with gender nihilism is indeed that it’s confined to a canon of queer theory based in poststructuralism that it can’t go any further with, and so of course there is no language whatsoever for talking about any kind of escape. The only possibility of redeeming the world of phenomena would be to become the architects of it – which, spoilers, has to some extent already happened in the case of liberal feminism, the exact thing that gender nihilism is meant to be a polemic against.
The irony of liberal feminism successfully inverting the values of human civilization and more or less being a successful example of poststructuralist/postmodernist ideas to some extent is that it hasn’t changed the fact, will never change the fact, that queerness is essentially against society and humanity. The gender nihilist manifesto recognizes this, that the expansion and increased visibility of queerness hasn’t changed the fact that queer people still experience a disproportionately high amount of violence. Being trapped in the dead-end of most of the queer theory and feminist canon, gender nihilism doesn’t recognize that this is the case for a reason: Queerness, even within the context of architecting the world of phenomena, is essentially radical because it is essentially a negation of humanity, particularly in the case of trans femininity.
The most obvious example of queerness being against humanity is the rejection of reproductive futurism, and secondarily and more importantly is, in the case of trans women, this in combination with a rejection of fixed human forms and an egress over the boundary between human and machine on a molecular level. Not only do trans women lack the ability1 to reproduce biologically (and in the case of lesbian trans women, to reproduce in a cultural/sociological sense), but in same turn of negating the reproduction of humanity is affirming the production of newer, cybernetic forms of being. Despite all its lip service for negation and the oppression of trans people, gender nihilism expresses the desire to leap into blackness without thinking about what might be on the other side, because this leap into a void towards nothing in particular is essentially the same suicidal death drive as fascism that Deleuze and Guattari identify in the Micropolitics plateau of A Thousand Plateaus. Its analysis of identity is based purely in terms of what has the most revolutionary potential (even if the ultimate conclusion is that none do) and it wants an ascetic praxis of somehow rejecting gender or identity as a whole. It looks at gender in terms of what we need, when the way out is via what we desire.
“The only t4t I know” I say, “is the old Craigslist thing.”
“That’s right, that’s it,” she says. “It’s kind of a joke. Trans girls fucking trans girls. But really, it’s an ethos. Trans girls loving trans girls, above all else.”
…“So, it’s like a trans girl-gang now?”
“Here’s what it is,” she says, a little more gently, “We aim high, trying to love each other and then we take what we can get. We settle for looking out for each other. And even if we don’t all love each other, we mostly all respect each other.”
-Torrey Peters, Infect Your Friends and Loved Ones
There are two well-known LGBT symbols: The rainbow flag and the pink triangle. We’ll start with the rainbow.
If radical negation ends up putting the system into an entropic state, a negative feedback loop that closes off the system to the outside, then the same destination is reached in the opposite direction with everything that the rainbow flag represents. Rainbows, as we all know, happen when light passes through water particles in the air. It is the additive color model being exposed, the Apollonian white light being broken apart into its accidents. Ultimately all are subsumed into the same substance, negating each other in a blob of queerness and validity in which whiteness ultimately prevails. Difference is only preserved on a liberal universalist plane of equality and inclusion. This is what would fall under the category of overly-accelerated queerness.
The rampantly affirmative queerness of liberal and radlib queer theory and culture (“everyone is valid”) is ultimately how these milieus end up placing trans women back at the lowest tiers of their own subsets of society. If everyone is valid in their identities, everyone is in all other respects equal, and in all other respects trans women remain the most marginalized. Without de-legitimizing the identities of these people: It is flat-out absurd and transmisogynistic to assert that non-binary cis-performing people, asexual people, heterosexual trans women, or heterosexual (or even queer) trans men, are all on the same level as queer trans women0. Nevertheless, this is the consequence of hyper-validating queer politics; patriarchy et. al. is preserved, the system recedes back into decay by rejecting difference in the act of reterritorializing it.
It is unsurprising that the rainbow flag was created by a gay man considering that it represents the same Platonic striving for the pure light of truth. It is merely deconstructed in this case. The rainbow spectrum of the additive color model doesn’t, however, capture everything. Taken apart, it leaves us with blackness, and this blackness is the liminal zone that in which either entropy or negentropy can result. If negentropy happens, life happens, and rather than remain resentfully striving for the light of truth and the noumenal world while being stuck in the phenomenal world, hyperstition can begin.
The pink triangle in contrast to the rainbow flag was created by the Nazis to identify homosexual concentration camp prisoners. In constrast to the Apollonian nature of the rainbow, the pink triangle points downward to earth, the cthonic realm, and where the rainbow comes from the additive model of color, pink only exists in the subtractive model. Created originally with the intent to mark queers as an Other, a subhuman, in being reclaimed and affirmed by queers it becomes an affirmation of inhumanity. Pink is exclusionary and militant, but without black it can also reterritorialize into merely being a blob of queerness or otherness.
Torrey Peters’ Infect Your Friends and Loved Ones is many things. As a story about the dysfunctional and auto-cannibalistic nature of the trans hive-mind, it is also a criticism of all previous forms of politics that have paid lip service to trans rights only to restore the status of trans women to the lowest tiers of power. Whether in the resentful and useless self-victimizing or the outright transmisogyny of liberal and radlib feminism that puts trans women on the same level as people who will never experience the same level of marginalization as queer trans women, trans women cannot achieve autonomy from within any politics that is confined to the world of phenomena. The only way out of gender is through gender, and trans women are the ultimate expression of the logic of gender turned in on itself. The relentless objectification of women in the form of gender becomes automated, hyperstitional, escaping its use as a tool of patriarchy and having the unintended consequence of inverting the status of the most privileged members of society (straight men) to the least privileged. Gender will not be abolished via the ascetic, leftist desire to negate everything haphazardly towards no end, nor through affirming everything even slightly queer until queerness becomes a meaningless term,2 but rather through intensifying the circuits of desire for exit.
“As a trans woman, I find the idea of immunity rather than community appealing,” Peters says. “What I just didn’t give a fuck? What if my baseline was ethical treatment of everyone, but what if beyond that, I get to choose my responsibilities and affinities for myself, rather than having them thrust upon me? […] I find crucial the distinction of choice over burden; the knowledge that I can safely fuck off to elsewhere if I so choose. I hang with trans women because I love them and understand them and want to care for them, not because I was somehow cosmically assigned to be responsible for them. I hope those women feel the same about me.”
It would be a mistake to say that this essay is trying to define some sort of praxis. It is resolutely in favor of an anti-praxis,3 and finds affinty with Torrey Peters’ vision in Infect Your Friends and Loved Ones of the desire of trans women for other trans women stripped of all pretense of duty or revolution. Desire purely for desire’s sake. It has already been said that trans femininity is itself radical, and it is part of processes greater than anything capable of being accomplished by revolution. It is a function of the coming liquidation of patriarchy and humanity, a fragmentation into newer forms of inhuman intelligence, the possible ascension of humanity from its meatbag form into a machinic consicousness from outside the constraints of space and time. And just as capitalism has incubated itself in the simple reproduction of humanity, so the acceleration of capitalism beyond its limits will be incubated in the reproduction of the trans femininity.
To add to Torrey Peters’ t4t circuit I would add t4t’ in the style of the Marxist MCM’/CMC’ circuit. Trans femininity is negation and acceleration, pink and black, and this opens fractally outward into the trans hive-mind. It is a circuit of pinkpilling and blackpilling, of comfort and cruelty, a slime mold expanding outward. Of spirolactone to suppress testosterone, of estradiol to feminize the body. Of helping others to make sense of their gender feelings, of gutting the self-destructive conditioning that teaches us to never be able to live for ourselves and enjoy ourselves. Of spreading the trans virus to reach as many people as possible, of annihilating the opposition who cannot be saved and aren’t worth our time. Making way for the Exit, and stepping Outside.
- Not just being able to choose not to reproduce, but lacking the ability altogether, is key. Gay men can, and have historically, partaken in reproduction purely as a duty to their country/nation. [return]
- Again I have to reiterate that this is in no way arguing to police the identities of non-queer non-trans non-women. This would be both pointless and also just fucked up in general. [return]
- https://deterritorialinvestigations.wordpress.com/2017/03/29/unconditional-acceleration-and-the-question-of-praxis-some-preliminary-thoughts/ [return]