Skip to content

ȘȈǤƝȘ 71: Imperceptible War

6 minutes read

“Why not think that a new type of revolution is in the course of becoming possible, and that all kinds of mutating, living machines conduct wars, are combined and trace out a plane of consistency which undermines the plane of organization of the World and the States?” —Deleuze

Welcome to Signs of Life, the coolest newsletter in the world.

It's about philosophy and science on the frontiers of internet culture.

If someone sent you this, it must be pretty cool. Subscribe for yourself.

In this issue, you'll learn about:

Imperceptible War

I’m feeling more content and detached than ever, detached from everything—blissfully unconcerned about almost everything—except the few things and people I really care about.

Yet I’ve also felt a swelling bellicosity, a strange readiness and even desire for war.

Monetary inflation causes verbal inflation, and suddenly everyone thinks they’re getting rich and everyone thinks they’re really smart. Saccharine positivity bias and mimetic contagions normalize with astonishing rapidity and shamelessness.

My two feelings—peaceful detachment and belligerence—are not as contradictory as they seem.

The call to become imperceptible is always also a call to accelerate the war machine.

As Deleuze and Guattari explain, the war machine predates War and the war machine does not primarily have War as its object. War only becomes the object of the war machine when the war machine is captured by the State apparatus. The war machine is a pure form of exteriority. The nomad and the warrior predate War. The nomad and the warrior are simply those who are always escaping to the Outside, which has nothing to do with physical space. I explain the concept of the Outside in my short book on Deleuze, but the main idea I’ll leave you with here is that the Outside is always immanent.

The war that one should wage is well described in A Thousand Plateaus, it is a "war without battle lines…"

“With neither confrontation nor retreat, without battles even… It is a question of arraying oneself in an open space, of holding space, of maintaining the possibility of springing up at any point: the movement is not from one point to another, but becomes perpetual, without aim or destination, without departure or arrival.”

Upcoming Events

Bitcoin and Philosophy Seminar.png

Lecture and discussion seminar on the Bitcoin Whitepaper. This will be a close reading of the Bitcoin whitepaper, written and published by Satoshi Nakamoto in October of 2008.

We'll try to secure a basic grasp of the technical aspects—especially the Double Spending Problem and the Byzantine Generals Problem—but mostly with an eye toward the philosophical and political implications of the Bitcoin system. One theoretical foil for the seminar will be Nick Land's short book Crypto-Current, though it's not required reading for this session.

Pay what you want, ~$25 suggested. Free for members. Register here.

The Internet is a Schizophrenia Simulator (Other Life #159)

Paul Town is an author and a low-key star of the internet underground. He has a wild life story involving psychosis, alleged arson, and a ton of writing.

In 2019 he wrote 3 books of more than 400 pages each. All of his books are self-published and quite underrated. We talked mostly about writing on the internet, indie publishing, and the internet-insanity nexus. This conversation was pretty funny but also had some real insight around mindset, attitude, and how to live a creative life in the internet age.

Listen here. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or your preferred podcast player.

New headquarters

Get Jacked, Build a Cult, and Get $$$ (Other Life #158)

Gritcult is a Twitter anon who's built a small business empire exclusively through Twitter. We talk about the optics of men posting physique, how he built an underground business almost exclusive through Twitter DMs, and how he thinks about content, crypto, cults, and much more.

Listen here. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or your preferred podcast player.

Other Work From the Community

A couple notable items coming out of the Other Life / forum recently.

CleanShot 2021-11-22 at 16.56.40.png

Paul Skallas Is a Scammer and I Called It in 2020

I just have to take a little victory lap on this one…

When that New York Times mention of Paul Skallas came out recently, and a lot of the underground internet writers were like “Wow yay, one of us ReALLy MaDe iT”—I just laughed. I knew.

In May of 2020 I really looked into this guy’s work which, to be honest, hardly even exists.

Paul Skallas’s “work” is the textual equivalent of what software engineers call vaporware. Smoke, mirrors, some wrapping paper in front of paywalls, but if you keep digging… Nothing but vapor.

I’m not saying I dislike his ideas or that he’s overrated. I’m saying he’s a fake—a make-believe writer who literally started his internet career selling fake books for money. I would bet he's at least moderately sociopathic.

A while back, he had books on Amazon, under his own name, which were super thin and literally composed of tweet screenshots. As I show back in May 2020 (screenshot below), these books were getting flagged by Amazon because they were receiving so many complaints from buyers.

I was so struck by the shameless emptiness of his digital wares back in 2020, that I did a whole case study on it—that's not a typical format that I do.

CleanShot 2021-11-22 at 17.24.49.png
One of Skallas's early "books" flagged by Amazon for too many quality complaints

Anyway, when that New York Times article came out, one of the reasons I didn't say anything was because I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt. I knew he was a poser, but hey—maybe he took his early traction as a motivation to clean up his character and produce some original ideas.

This week it was brought to my attention that now people are catching him plagiarizing—red-handed, again shameless—behind the paywall of his Substack. Compare, on the left, Skallas, and on the right, Sam Kriss:

That’s Matthew Schmitz who caught it, and hat tip to Geoff Shullenberger for sending me this.

Apparently he’s been plagiarizing for a while. On the left is Skallas, on the right is the design critic Alexandra Lange. This example is from Simon Sarris.

Imagine plagiarizing a paragraph that involves a reference to your own childhood. If that doesn’t signal systematic fakery, I don’t know what does.

And finally, Antonio García Martínez caught him as well. Apparently Antonio filed a complaint with Substack and they pulled that post.

I can't believe how many smart people fell for this guy.

If this kerfuffle doesn't stick a fork in him, it will be an extraordinary testimony to the teflon nature of internet persona. I do tend to think that, if you are sociopathic enough, you can very well weather this kind of public outing. There will always be enough <100 IQ lunatics to keep growing your audience, you just need to be shameless enough.

This should be highly encouraging for any decent and honest writer trying to build an audience. As I discuss in my case study of Skallas: If so many people could be hoodwinked into respecting and following this guy's vaporware "ideas", this should remove any and all doubts you have about your own intellectual projects!

Will the University of Austin Succeed?

It depends on your theory of technology. My conclusion is this…

“The only steady state is where the most talented thinkers and writers and teachers accrue audiences, teach courses, and provide nourishing social-intellectual community to all of the small minority of individuals in the world who seek sophisticated intellectual life. In fragmented niches highly conditional on personality, demographics, etc.”

From Will the University of Austin Succeed?

Await Destiny

“The superior man lives peacefully and at ease and waits for his destiny, while the inferior man takes to dangerous courses and hopes for good luck.” —Confucius


Subscribe to receive the latest posts in your inbox.