Old Permanently Unfinished Essay on Gothic Materialism
Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, in developing their transcendental materialism, made way for this cybernetic and antihumanist materialism. Mark Fisher, writer of “Flatline Constructs: Gothic Materialism and Cybernetic Theory-Fiction’’, and main source of this essay, takes after Deleuze-Guattari as well as Spinoza in his emphasis on affect as the level at which everything takes place as well as the immanent plane at the core of each of their philosophies.
The basis of Fisher’s Gothic materialism is his concept of the Gothic Flatline: a Spinozistic plane of immanence where there is no differentiation between animate and inanimate, organic and inorganic; anorganic continuum. The Gothic Flatline is also heavily inspired by Deleuze-Guattari’s, also Spinozistic, concept of the Body-without-Organs: a plane of immanence, pure intensity, and consistency to put it simply (perhaps too simply). ; Upon this Flatline, experience is constructed; “Synthesize the conditions and you produce the experience.” As Deleuze-Guattari did, Fisher focuses on the ‘impersonal production and transcendental processes’. “Everything happens at the level of affect”, consciousness reflects unconscious processes which produce it. The machinic processes which produce identity have become engineered. The product is the construct; the artificially produced subject
Despite the obvious influence Fisher takes from Deleuze-Guattari, rather than describing the Gothic as some application of Deleuzo-Guattarian ideas, it would be more accurate to say Deleuze-Guattari are Gothic. Their work is a “clicking together of Gothic authors whose names are legion: Lovecraft, Artaud, Freud, Marx, Schreber, Worringer” (FC, 12). Here, The Gothic is not supernatural or ‘other-wordly’, but, on the contrary, it is associated with what Fisher calls “hyper naturalism” and “cybernetic realism”. He rejects man as anything but a part of a cybernetic machine; a feedback loop. Us and the machines are both ‘dead’. Deleuze-Guattari view man in a similarly machinic way.
This ‘deadness’ of everything in Fisher’s cybernetic view of man is the core of his antihumanism: “What Wiener characterises as the Cartesian privileging of the human over the animal and of the organic over the inorganic is revealed by cybernetics, Wiener thinks, to be an arbitrary prejudice (attributable, ultimately, to monotheistic theology).” This lack of distinction between organic and inorganic introduces another key part of the Gothic Flatline: Agency is not exclusive to the living; everything acts on the same plane.