Geotraumatics, Expenditure, and Death: Towards a Transcendental Deduction of Oil
“It is the green parts of the plants of the solid earth and the seas which endlessly operate the appropriation of an important part of the sun’s luminous energy. It is in this way that light — the sun — produces us, animates us, and engenders our excess. This excess, this animation are the effect of the light (we are basically nothing but an effect of the sun) [VII 10]. “ — Bataille, Oeuvres Complètes
Star Ignition happens so gradually there isn’t a clear moment of “ignition.”
Protostars glow hot long before any fusion starts. As the protostar begins to collapse under its own weight, it produces heat, which irradiates space’s cold vacuum. The protostar converts its gravitational potential energy into heat at this phase, which provides pressure that slows down its catastrophic collapse.
As the core continues to compress, it gradually approaches temperatures where fusion reactions become possible. Over thousands of years, fusion becomes the primary form of energy, creating an expanding force that stops collapse as compressive forces try to crush the star into oblivion while the star continues to support its own mass. This causes the surface to stop contracting, and the star achieves a stable equilibrium where the fusion at its core produces enough thermal pressure to balance the weight of its gas exactly.
Our story began about 4,500,000,000 years ago. This is roughly how old the scorching ball of plasma hurdling our wet rock around 67,000 mph. The excess energy in the form of light escapes its scorching prison. One photon of light takes only eight minutes to get to the Earth from the surface of the Sun. But it can take 100,000 years from the Sun’s core to get to the surface — where it bursts out and flies at the speed of light.
This hailstorm of excess energy is Batailles General Economy par excellence. In this system, the Sun produces a grotesque amount of excess energy that it ejaculates on the face of the Earth. This is no mere metaphor, for this event impregnates the Earth with the virtuality of Life.
“Bataille tells us that the universe is energetic, and the fate inherent to energy is utter waste. Energy from the sun is discharged unilaterally and without design. That fraction of solar radiation which strikes the earth resources all terrestrial endeavor, provoking the feverish obscenity we call ‘life.’ “- T.A, Nick Land
Life becomes a self-assembling runaway process, much like the sun. An aggregation of positive feedback processes assembles and culminate into singular points until they reach equilibrium. These homeostatic intensity points eventually succumb to the pull of entropy and return to their disorderly plane: Death.
The body count rises, and the bodies begin to settle, the rot finally begins to set in. A traumatic story that began in the empty tomb of space and culminates in the shifting strata of the earth’s crust, crushed by the heat and pressure of plate tectonics, creating the very life force for techno capital, its blood, its hidden horror, black gold as some call it: Oil.
Behind the shiny futurism and chrome aesthetics of cyberpunk lies a grotesque substrate, which Negarestani adequately calls “the excrement of the middle east.”
For Freud, the unconscious desire to return to an inorganic state is coined the death drive.
If we are to take it as a truth that knows no exception that everything living dies for internal reasons — becomes inorganic once again — then we shall be compelled to say that ‘the aim of all life is death’ and, looking backward, that ‘inanimate things existed before living ones.’ (Freud 1991a, 246. The emphasis in original)
The death drive is not unique to a human subject or psyche, for that matter. The death drive can be superimposed onto the inorganic itself. The inevitability for all-stars to eventually collapse is not just the theatrics of physics but the very struggle with entropy any system confronts. The return to a state of inactivity is the true or final form of “equilibrium”; thus, the aggregation of organic sediment as the entrapment of solar waste in the form of oil is the actualization of this equilibrium, it is oils Nirvana, the ability to escape the cycle of expenditure and return to a state of inactivity or non-being.
In 1859, at Titusville, Penn., Col. Edwin Drake drilled the first successful well through rock and produced crude oil. This event gave way to the fissure of trauma long forgotten. The amalgamation of death drives in the form of organic sludge had been disturbed, as techonomic take off took place in the early waves of industrialization, the resurrection or returned to a volatile state of this Material Death Drive manifested itself in new ways. The proliferation of libidinal impulses towards this inactive state creates competing systems at an arms race to potlach with the sun.
The overabundance of solar energy in the form of oil has resulted in techonomic centralization, which creates mass wealth inequality. This is felt in the form of disparate time intensities, which is reflected in the abundance of free time or leisure for a few and the intensification of harder living conditions for the masses. In terms of material waste, an abundance of irreducible carbons in both the form of carbon dioxide and plastic have taken root. The irreducibility of a new dead matter reaches a new equilibrium as plastic proliferates itself in all living organisms’ guts, introducing itself in systems that had already reached equilibrium.
Our libidinal drives enslave us to desire. There is no remedy for the proliferation of these traumas. Techno-capital and its emergent Xenomorphic terrors are only possible because oil can power them. But the dependency on oil will be something it must shed before this process burns itself out.
This is a Transcendental Deduction of Oil.
To be continued.