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Cyclonopedia: Complicity with Anonymous…
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Cyclonopedia: Complicity with Anonymous Materials (Anomaly) (vuoden 2008 painos)

– tekijä: Reza Negarestani (Tekijä)

JäseniäKirja-arvostelujaSuosituimmuussijaKeskimääräinen arvioMaininnat
261579,694 (3.63)8
At once a horror fiction, a work of speculative theology, an atlas of demonology, a political samizdat and a philosophic grimoire, CYCLONOPEDIA is work of theory-fiction on the Middle East, where horror is restlessly heaped upon horror. Reza Negarestani bridges the appalling vistas of contemporary world politics and the War on Terror with the archeologies of the Middle East and the natural history of the Earth itself. CYCLONOPEDIA is a middle-eastern Odyssey, populated by archeologists, jihadis, oil smugglers, Delta Force officers, heresiarchs, corpses of ancient gods and other puppets. The journey to the Underworld begins with petroleum basins and the rotting Sun, continuing along the tentacled pipelines of oil, and at last unfolding in the desert, where monotheism meets the Earth's tarry dreams of insurrection against the Sun. 'The Middle East is a sentient entity - it is alive ' concludes renegade Iranian archeologist Dr. Hamid Parsani, before disappearing under mysterious circumstances. The disordered notes he leaves behind testify to an increasingly deranged preoccupation with oil as the 'lubricant' of historical and political narratives. A young American woman arrives in Istanbul to meet a pseudonymous online acquaintance who never arrives. Discovering a strange manuscript in her hotel room, she follows up its cryptic clues only to discover more plot-holes, and begins to wonder whether her friend was a fictional quantity all along. Meanwhile, as the War on Terror escalates, the US is dragged into an asymmetrical engagement with occultures whose principles are ancient, obscure, and saturated in oil. It is as if war itself is feeding upon the warmachines, leveling cities into the desert, seducing the aggressors into the dark heart of oil ...… (lisätietoja)
Jäsen:100sheets
Teoksen nimi:Cyclonopedia: Complicity with Anonymous Materials (Anomaly)
Kirjailijat:Reza Negarestani (Tekijä)
Info:re.press (2008), Edition: First Edition, 268 pages
Kokoelmat:Oma kirjasto
Arvio (tähdet):
Avainsanoja:to-read, theory-philosophy, fiction

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Cyclonopedia: Complicity with Anonymous Materials (tekijä: Reza Negarestani)

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näyttää 5/5
Allow me to get on my soapbox for bit: A book's difficulty is not directly proportional to its brilliance. Some difficult books are pure drivel, and some simple looking books are pure genius. This particular book requires a lot of work, and a great deal of patience. For this, it is to be both admired and alternately thrown against a wall.

Part of the unusual nature of the book is the way that it is written. It starts out as a somewhat typical story would - meaning that it contains characters and the semblance of a plot. But once it gets those things out of the way (and discards them almost completely), it proceeds in somewhat essay/manifesto form. There are people mentioned in the rest of the book ('novel' is not the correct word here), but these people are secondary to the elements and ideas the book feels is more important. It takes a kind of HP Lovecraft / Deleuze and Guattari view of communication, and if you aren't familiar with either, then you should take a look at them. Danielewski's House of Leaves (which I was optimistic this would evoke, but it didn't) starts with the dedication page saying "This is not for you." Still, Danielewski can be said to be a bit kinder to the reader (while scaring the wits out of them) than Negarestani is here.

To get an idea of where the author is going, look up stuff on Hyperstition. The book is clever, and it challenges the way we are to read books and regard the world, ideas of capitalism, Islam, monotheism and our dependence on oil (for starters). For these things it should be lauded. But that can only take us so far. This book is oddly immersive in a way I've experienced with other books (many which regarded story as more central than declarative treatise), and its presentation of ideas on oil, the Middle East, desertification, etc. are fascinating - sometimes funny, other times creepy (in the good way). There is amusing word play and a very densely packed set of esoteric ideas. But to suggest that this book is wholly enjoyable to read would be misleading.

One of my friends called this book a "glorified essay that goes on ad infinitum." This book hinges on strict non-fiction that may or may not be fiction, (which I should note is not completely a criticism). I do not want to call this a gimmick, but it is excruciating. If the need to communicate such unique ideas is so important, why do it in a way that alienates readers or makes them work so hard to comprehend them? Those who would revert to the argument that this is a different way of thinking (one that would privilege the Middle East way of thinking) are definitely on the right track, except that this book is written in English and thus his intended audience comes under question (if it hadn't already).

I would suggest that this would best be enjoyed by someone familiar with Deleuze and Guattari, Lovecraft, Koontz (yes, Koontz is thrown in there), Žižek, philosophy (Western philosophy in general would be helpful but Middle Eastern and Iranian philosophy would be better), general knowledge of ideas in Islam and Wahhabism, Middle East politics and history, and the general ideas and background of Western monotheism, not to mention the history of conquest as it relates to Western versus Eastern epistemologies and economies. A little Indo-Iranian linguistic archeology would be nice too if you'd like. That would all help. Well, it wouldn't hurt, anyway. Not that you have to know all these to get the gist of what is going on, but it seems like a lot of the winks that Negarestani makes at the reader - if we are to assume he acknowledges him or her - are done at the assumption of a backbone knowledge of these and other things.

The marketing of the book emphasizes its story elements in a way that the book doesn't deliver on. If the back cover interests you I would suggest you pick a random page in the middle of the book and start reading to see what the book is really like before forming your impressions. It could have had great potential for something else that just isn't quite here.
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  irrelephant | Feb 21, 2021 |
To understand the militarization of oil and the dynamism of war machines in War on Terror, one must grasp oil as an ultimate Tellurian lubricant, or a vehicle for epic narratives.

I kept thinking of Terminus, the Roman god of boundaries while plowing through this book. Sure the prose as such was the epitome of opaque and dense: thus a sheer alternative to the smooth spaces of the Warmachine and the Lines of Immanence. I read somewhere recently that the Israeli Defense Force has begun incorporating Deleuze and Guattari into their combat manuals. This could only be a pregnant coincidence with respect to this narrative -- one where petroleum is a sentient evil, at war with the Sun and hoping for an inevitable Lovercraftian return of Lost Gods or some such. Along the way we are guided by a Col. Kurtz of the Delta Force in Iraq and an eerie caress of John Carpenter's The Thing. The glossary of theory-ese at the end is great fun as well. Despite the heavy lifting and a wonky Farsi perspective, this was great fun, though hardly for the uninitiated.
( )
  jonfaith | Feb 22, 2019 |
High-density philosophy-horror. The book draws on folklore, pop-culture, psychology, and obscure and frightening philosophy to present the argument that oil is alive and pure evil. Every "dark side" to every religion and every "evil" in every work of fiction, every war, and all human endeavors are rooted in oil's desire to oppose the sun.

It's hard to read, and the ideas are complicated, spliced with the narrative about an unhinged professor who's obsessed with these oily ideas, gone missing as he searches for artifacts. ( )
  fractal_oblidisk | Nov 21, 2014 |
Recommended by Jonathan McCalmont and, to be honest, I didn’t really get the joke. It’s written as a cod academic text, and probably does an excellent job of spoofing its material, but I’m not familiar with the sort of academic arguments it uses. It did remind me a lot of some of the Nazi occult science mythology – especially those books published by Adventures Unlimited Press – which create entire secret scientific programmes out of the flimsiest of evidence. The plot, such as it is, describes the War on Terror as an emergent phenomenon of humanity’s exploitation of oil, which is itself an inimical intelligence determined to rid the planet of humans. Or something. ( )
  iansales | Sep 3, 2014 |
A very interesting book. The back cover copy makes it sound like it's science fiction, and Jess Martin's review (on this site) makes it sound like some generic mysticism. One of the endorsements in the book describes it as "an uncategorizable hybrid of philosophical fiction, heretical theology, aberrant demonology and renegade archaeology." That is a bit sloppy, because the book is only philosophical fiction in the sense that it is invented, à la Borges or Lem. And heresy isn't its point. "Cyclonopdia" is an imaginary philosophic treatise about a fictional authority on the Middle East, supposedly discovered by a woman in a hotel room.

The author, Negarestani, has been reading a lot of Deleuze and Guattari, and also a wide range of political theory ("Empire" has a similar rhetoric in places). Many chapters could almost be presented at philosophy conferences; there are analyses of oil, machinery, war, camouflage, and other subjects that are in line with some eccentric Deleuzian readings that have long been acceptable in academic contexts. The fictional part comes partly in the book's claim that "the Middle East [is] a sentient and living entity... in a very literal sense of the word," but more in the book's many poetic analyses of its leading concepts--analyses that draw on Deleuze but also on popular culture, from H.P. Lovecraft to John Carpenter's "The Thing." (And again, that's commensurate with contemporary Deleuzian and cultural studies.)

The best passages of the book are imaginative analyses of particular concepts. There is a spectacular long footnote explaining the concept of the "inorganic demon," ranging from "The Exorcist" to "Doom III." (p. 223 ff) There is a very good page on the survival of pre-Islamic ways of writing "Allah." (p. 173). There is an excellent poetic analysis, reminiscent in its way of Bachelard's ruminations on elements, but also of Lautréamont, on the subject of the Babylonian demons Enkidu and Puzuzu (the latter familiar from "The Exorcist"). (p. 113 ff) That analysis includes a description of "Rammalie," "an Arabic word for communication with other worlds and aeons through patterns on pebbles and desert sand."

The book has a glossary, with well-developed theoretical concepts. In that regard it resembles Latour's book on nature, or Rancière's book on politics. Negarestani has invented, and defined, an entire vocabulary for interpreting the socio-political, historical, and psychological state of the Middle East: Double Numbering, hypercamouflage, polytics, heresy-engineering, Druj literature, Tellurian blasphemy, schizotrategy... they could all be used in discussions outside the book.

The book's weaknesses have to do with Negarestani's shortcomings as a fiction writer, and also her shortcomings as a theoretician. The former become apparent when the reader moves from the brief introduction, which tells the story of the discovery of the manuscript, into the manuscript itself: at that point it is clear that the introduction is poorly, incompletely imagined fiction (it consists of very brief vignettes). Before the reader makes the transition to the body of the book, it appears that the fragmented descriptions in the introduction are a deliberate strategy; but there are no other fictional strategies in the book. The latter weakness, concerning theory, becomes apparent whenever the writing is too close to its models in Deleuze and Guattari. In those passages, the text can read like an unintentional parody of Deleuze or other poststructuralist theorists, the kind of parody written intentionally by disaffected graduate students. An analysis of the semiotics of the rat (p. 229) is an example: it has a kind of grim humor, but it is humorless about the fact that it is a pastiche of any number of such analyses in authors as diverse as Barthes and Serres. In other passages, neologisms proliferate in the way that used to be called "Derridadrivel," for instance in this chapter opening: "In the mid-eighties, before succumbing to his petromantic nympholepsy..." (p. 195). There are also passages that read like unintentional pastiches of popular film and novels, as in this chapter opening: "By the time Colonel West turned into a renegade and deserted Delta Force's Special Tactics and Rescue Squad..." (p. 129). This is knowing, but not in control of the fact that as it continues it begins to appear inadvertent or unreflective about its sources.

These two weaknesses -- regarding fiction and theory -- are both very common, but usually they are found in different kinds of writing: the first occurs in novels everywhere, and the second in academic philosophy. It is extremely unusual to have them together in one book, written by a person with an understanding of Middle Eastern languages, history, and archaeology. I read the book at first as an attempt at academic fiction (as in Borges), but again as an attempt to seriously theorize the Middle East, and especially the meanings of oil. In that respect, the book is spectacular. ( )
3 ääni JimElkins | Jul 23, 2009 |
näyttää 5/5
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Englanninkielinen Wikipedia

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At once a horror fiction, a work of speculative theology, an atlas of demonology, a political samizdat and a philosophic grimoire, CYCLONOPEDIA is work of theory-fiction on the Middle East, where horror is restlessly heaped upon horror. Reza Negarestani bridges the appalling vistas of contemporary world politics and the War on Terror with the archeologies of the Middle East and the natural history of the Earth itself. CYCLONOPEDIA is a middle-eastern Odyssey, populated by archeologists, jihadis, oil smugglers, Delta Force officers, heresiarchs, corpses of ancient gods and other puppets. The journey to the Underworld begins with petroleum basins and the rotting Sun, continuing along the tentacled pipelines of oil, and at last unfolding in the desert, where monotheism meets the Earth's tarry dreams of insurrection against the Sun. 'The Middle East is a sentient entity - it is alive ' concludes renegade Iranian archeologist Dr. Hamid Parsani, before disappearing under mysterious circumstances. The disordered notes he leaves behind testify to an increasingly deranged preoccupation with oil as the 'lubricant' of historical and political narratives. A young American woman arrives in Istanbul to meet a pseudonymous online acquaintance who never arrives. Discovering a strange manuscript in her hotel room, she follows up its cryptic clues only to discover more plot-holes, and begins to wonder whether her friend was a fictional quantity all along. Meanwhile, as the War on Terror escalates, the US is dragged into an asymmetrical engagement with occultures whose principles are ancient, obscure, and saturated in oil. It is as if war itself is feeding upon the warmachines, leveling cities into the desert, seducing the aggressors into the dark heart of oil ...

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