what when out in lake there men die young that of the river there with brush and cress and reeds and the nest of birds in their hair eyes hearts mouths unsoothed these prey heavy with stones and unlight tawn upon the shoresun and waterfuneraled tan and coarselife the unlived horse men mare sons soulferried lethites

We have a simple enough problem before us to solve. There is wealth in our society—from Berwick-upon-Tweed to Beirut—that no one sees. It is accounted for; more than accounted for, because its value is now in how it is counted and nothing else. Some call this capital—this movement from money simply denoting processes and things-processed to the standstill of a process of measurement powerful enough to mobilise the entire world economy while remaining still. Why remaining still? Because whether the ledger books of these accounts ever reach anything real is not the point. They are, and like to remain, bubbles. And our entire economy is a fat bubble. There is nothing inside it; no substance. In fact, our situation is far stranger than that: we have built a global economy on keeping this bubble full of air. We have significant enough crises, that merit no social change, because, there is, on the one hand, no social change to be given, and, on the other hand, we remain fixated on the utter fragility of our bubble. Yet, we cannot really acknowledge it either as it is or that it is, and the paradox, furthermore, is that this has itself become an economic process.

This is because everything is an economic process—Oikos—and the saving of our household, if not measured as such, is used as a new benchmark for how economic processes are themselves regulated and drawn through. This drawing-through is important; it is the horse of capitalism. This horse sees the forest or the meadow of an economic process as something it gains and transacts so long as it walks through it. At least, as long as there is a ledgermuncher on hand; that is, someone who can say that

the horse went through the forest.

Without this, nothing happens. The problem is that nothing still happens even when it is written down. A series of transactions, all of which may be of the same kind, may base themselves on whether the horse has walked through. If the horse’s end is to some use and benefit, then it is not meaningless. So long as the economic process is the ledger, however, then the horse’s treading can only last for so long, can only be so long resourced, before the uselessness of the ledger will overwhelm the horse’s rider and the tending of the path and the forest with the inevitable limit of what such accounting really accomplishes.

The new benchmark of our walking horse is, that we shall go into crisis and then the economy will be flooded by central bankers, who, increasingly, will accept that the money does not enter into the economy as such (as we would like it to be, for the sake of our lethite ferriers), but into the hands of private bankers (lent on a negative interest rate), who are, strangely enough, already tasked with distributing these funds to consumers, and who then lend it to international corporations. This is now the horse (walking through the forest). Or, rather, it is the forest with a horse walking through it as described by a ledgermuncher. If you are struck by the question as to what exaclty either this description or this horse accomplishes, you are right to wonder. The difficulty is that this is the old question, whereas the new question is something like, how is it that a new way of (accounting for our) our horse walking through the forest is to continue to fund away all the transactions that rely upon (the description of) the horse walking, when, in fact, the horse is dead in the field. The obscenity is not just that the horse is dead, but that, in a Frankensteinian turn, this dead horse continues to sustain the process of an entire economy. If you read only the ledgers, the horse is walking is just fine.

What does it mean to see a dead horse? It would mean, or seem to mean, to see a dead transaction. Our Oikos is one great corpse upon the barge of Charon, which survives, not by maintaining something is alive, but by maintaing a certain level of economic movement (the river flow) no matter what occurs. What kind of movement is this? It is not the growth of the apple of the tree. But, even Marx was wrong to place all of his hope on this. It is clear that the horse is alive in the ledgers (and dead here), because the ledgers account for what is already dead in the eyes of the Oikos. This does not mean that the ledgers kill anything or that they resurrect anything; the situation is much more tragic: we keep writing, over and over again,

the horse walked through the forest/ the horse walked through the forest/ the horse walked through the forest,

in order to see, and to suspend all until we do, the horse really walking. The perversion of the dead horse is that we don’t need this thing to resurrect, and, after a certain point, some participants in our Oikos would prefer the horse remains dead.

The fact, furthermore, that we need a resurrection should tell you everything about our deadlock. Consider for a moment the deadlock in quatum physics, eerily repeated here: if string theory is no solution to the alive-and-dead cat (in Schrödinger’s original formula), then neither is the naive idea of a (revolutionary) resurrection to our dead horse. If anything, we must solve deadlock of quantum physics by solving the deadlock of political economy. In this respect, the mud of the atom is not an inapposite image, but it also misses (by reasserting) some part of the point of ‘thinking everything together’. The naive revolutionary expectation is, of course, embodied in the statement that the ‘horse will walk (again)’, whereas the capitalists are the worst perverts insofar as even as they wish the horse remains dead, but they do not want to face it, i.e. that is, the consequences of this death.

These consequences, however, are not very clear. What exactly has happened? Some may ask at which point in the forest the horse died, but this is to place a great deal of emphasis on something very artificial; some result which, unfortunately, barely grasps the logic of the perversion of our present Charon-barge. Others will ask, but what is the significance of this death, as the Oikos goes forth. The problem, of course, is that by the time our household collapses we will barely have time to notice as we fight the fires of this collapse; fires which will not be the result of this collapse, but merely a part of its complex destruction. The Charon-barge is, then, floating along the flowline of some expectation that the horse (of our Oikos) will walk again. As mentioned, our present economy (which, after a certain point, barely warrants the name), is interested, not only in the dead horse, but in the fact that there is an Oikos of these horse-statements: it is not so much a bundling together (a faisceaux) of these statements, so much as the fact that the horse is dead further separates the arrival of the process on which we have so much speculated. If one imagines that these speculations are made of nothing, that is, have no real information, one would be right in having grasped their specific Oikonomic provenance. This is the obvious awareness of the anti-capitalist, that capitalism had always anticipated the horse’s death and has never wushed it otherwise. In other words, our speculations are interested in their formal application, because they have no room for a horse ever arriving. This is not something, unlike Marx’s inclination, we can convert. They have no room for the horse arriving, because, where the previous situation was to supplant the apple orchard and the horse (and all the pre-Capitalist images of life) with something somehow more kernalic with respect to any of them (hence why both Marx and Lenin will have a great interest in the category of necessity as it relates to what there really is to any part of life ( in order to, once again, convert this kernel)), such that capitalism may be imagined as a great rot which breaks down everything into its most essential Logik, the present situation is one of seeing, and even to an extent measuring, how long one can expand and extend the Beckettian statements of our walking horse.

There remains a specific and strange economic transaction nonetheless embedded in these hopeless statements. Our economy, so we seem to see, is not actually a suspended transaction, such as the horse never arriving; it is a much more integral process, whereby what is desired are precisely those processes that are dead. These are not really processes, but insofar as they concern the horse—these things we like to think we do—then it is true that our Charon-barge is made, not up of accounts or even statements (of a hopeless kind), but of specifically dead things. Dead things to do the work of the apple orchard. This is the unforgiving meaning of Persephone, Demeter, and the pomegranate. Or, recall, Rilke’s poem:

so lässt auf dem Tische

Brot nicht und Milch nicht; die Toten ziehtes—

If Marx has an apple tree somewhere named after him, it will be to testify to the possibility of this specific rot-fungus which grows even out of the apparently dead things (of abstraction). It will be a blacktree grown with apples for the dead. This will be an image of his communism, that it was always to merit this dead food. Grey, portentless. This is, however, precisely what has failed in capitalism. It has failed to lead to communism. This is why to read Marx is to read a tragedy.

It is no wonder, then, that when we try to speculate, either on what exactly it is we do as a society or on what to do, we find ourselves at a loss. Again, the speculation we do do comes to prefer the dead horse, because it is interested, neither in insulating our speculations nor in somehow artificially extending them, but in how precisely this dead horse features in a transaction. There is no additional capital incentive, as such; the horse is not sold or packed up as flesh (even as there are people to feed). Instead, we cannot even really speculate on speculation, which has been the substance of capitalism, because we have a found a better way of grounding the operations of value: in the deadlock of enough processes themselves on which to speculate to appear, something curious happens whereby the very mechanism itself of saving (and stimulating) our economy back into action, which is invariably money (and the fiction that comes with it) will not become so much the subject of another speculation, though this is tangible. Instead, the bare bones of what we have, which is an economic procedure that looks like

give us more of the future

will continue, because invariably some future will arrive; only, that future, paradoxically, will not be our future, because it will be the artificial generation of practices of speculation which were stimulated by an impossible bargain. This bargain was that this money would lead somewhere away from itself, because it embodied one side of a transaction which was to have taken place. If the value of that money never reappears, and the transaction, on which it is based, also therefore never appears, then that money is false. It is lent on false pretences; it does not save our system. Recall that saving here means that, in being lent, it will arrive at some transaction which will grow large enough to encompass the possibility (retroactively) of that money having been lent. This is because the money was printed and lent out before it had a real social right to exist. This is fine if the money arrives at that larger possibility. The present situation is that the future is stolen, because this lending creates a strange rip in the fabric of any future economy, i.e. debt, in order to support a separate “future” which is nothing but the artificial intersection of the fruits of capitalist speculation and the human beings of which these fruits are supposed to be some extension.

After a certain point, would one not become more interested in a dead economy, because it allows this other procedure to occur. This other procedure is not like speculation; it is its perverse other side. It is the need for money, for some pure form of transactionality, which is satisfied by a central bank ready and willing to do so to salvage the macroeconomic nightmare of financial collapse. The problem is that this ‘pure form of transactionality’ only comes at the behest of a rainfall of stimulus. It is this saviour-stimulus which accomplishes the pure form of capital: one really seems to have the future in hand, as long as one ignores the great tear in the world one is drawing. This tear, like much that Marx points out in capitalism, unthinkable for a capitalist. It is not, in some sublime sense, really the future as the future is in the value of the transaction as it is being printed out and handed away. This ‘future’, of course, also barely exists; it is not real, except as an abstraction; as the bone of abstraction, meaning that it works because it utterly fails to enter into the apple orchard of reality. It is, therefore, in some sense also dead.

This is not yet the shortcircuit, however. If the infinite judgement of capitalism is:

capital is a central bank,

then we see the incest which will foment itself in Stalin. We may imagine insofar as the form remains this pure transaction—with the future in tow—it remains up to those who trade this money, but that can hardly be the case. There is nothing happening, and this is the bone of abstraction. Their future is nil, sustained only by the fact of its intersection with humanity. As humanity lulls itself to doomsleep, that intersection will close itself off only at the very last moment of the onset of that unending shuteye. This is the unawareness in the concept which, to an extent, scares Marx. It is very much what Freud will have to pick up. With Stalin, we see how much this centrality, not so much of authority, but of the dispensation of transactions, will in many ways culminate what capitalism always was. I will hand you the revolution In a sickle; you will hold the revolution in a hammer.

How can it be that the very embodiment of our social existence, though perhaps insofar as it remains a bank it remains glued to the surface of some tongue called capital, is caught up in finalising the pure procedure of transaction? Of course, the elemental move was always how the horse gets put into a transaction. That which seems so obvious to us, that the horse must exist, is the least obvious thing to prove. The transaction becomes more real, even as the counter assertion to its reality ought to be: yes, the horse isn’t real. It still needs to be fit into the world, somehow. We still need a thesis on reality to say, but the horse did walk through the forest. More still, we need some deeper theorem for how things really do fit into other things. We assume a transaction is possible, because we accept the picture of life capital presumes to give us. In the end, of course, we will accept any image of this transaction. It would not befall us that the horse must, in the end, be identical with the abstract transaction which is supposed to have rescinded it. This is, of course, the obvious move: the only way to dissolve the pure abstraction of transaction is to insist on its mutual intelligibility with a horse in the field. It is we who say, but there is no such intelligibility and thereby lose the one resource we have, that some connection existing in between these two things, makes some other transaction possible.

Capital is the lowest form of breath. It is really there. Accept it. It exists like a number exists, and numbers exist. The next step is not its denial. What we must imagine is that, given the river of this mutual intelligibility, we have only to question the life we have presumed exists behind capital. Where is the horse and the milkmaid and the hill with the tree? One can pass by all sorts of kingdoms and not see any of this. One sees the grey sky. This is important; this greyness. It is nearer to things. We must understand that Marx’s analysis of feudalism also rests on him saying, ‘but, this only became possible now under capitalism’. If we had let our social relations go unconscious, then we had somehow resurrected them in the past. It is to this perversion one must bring the rose. This rose is very real, and one presses it into the side a castle wall and asks of that wall:

hast thou of a day fit into a relation, a transaction.

The fitting, of course, of a castle wall exists nowhere and in no transaction. Conversely, there is no leftover as such here of a castle wall. We would have used capital to see such a bright castle upon the way and by a green hill. The green hill is the house of the dead, however. If the walls are very very grey we should rejoice, Copernican: there never was a transaction. In other words, there was never some process—some horse—to fit its way through the keyhole of its essence in capital. Again, it is a low breath; wrung with reeds. The thing that capital has shown is almost, as Marx already remarked, what we call Logik. It is a kind of Logik (of things). It is not a surprise that Lenin, in his notes on Hegel’s Logik, takes note of the fact that we are dealing with a kind of becoming of the world (into itself), that, as per Marx’s insight, will involve the intersection then of the becoming of the world with the becoming of capitalism. There will be a licit identity between the transaction-form and the deeper form of the world. Does one stand against this? One says: how can the Logik have preserved the information of the castle?

We point to the dead. No? To the grey on grey, after all. It is not that things, naively, die in abstraction; it is that if we needed evidence for the existence of this Logik it was in the images of grey reality. We can be more abstract and say: it was in the failure for the castle to be held at all (in an abstraction). The castle is always already crumbling. This is Kafka’s Rosenwunde. This would mean that the castle was not captured in anything and this is what remained in the Logik. It is in this that one finds the meek thesis of Hegel’s materialism: what remained were bones to testify that anything had ever lived. Of course, these bones are more real than what was (never) real. These bones are the absolute construction of things, that remain without them. One gets Marx’s remark about the anatomy of Man, which is a testament to the retroactive power of bones. One gets, in Hegel, the idea that the fact that these remain (as all that ever was) is the greyform of abstraction showing us precisely, not only did the horse not walk through the forest: there is no forest and there is no horse.

This is there strange power, however. Let’s call it the ring of the horse and the forest. An empty space in which may enter a forest. We must contrast this what must be possible to give humanity. We have fed ourselves before; we continue to do so. This is why the Charon-barge will keep moving, even without capitalism, or any specific achievement we could call capital, but that either concepts (like numbers) really exist or that grey reality is in evidence from the muteness of capital form, from the untouchability of these forms to reality—the virginity of capital. The barge will move because feeding ourselves has always been more important. In this sense, the horse is there; even if it is dead. Consider, still, the case of the castles of Northumbria. How would these, when reoriented by England, following the death of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms and the flood of the Normans (such as the Percys into Alnwick), be of use to us. We say: there is something or someone to feed. The farm, though, doesn’t exist, and the apples have been eaten through by worms. Still, in their new, or at least renewed rule, these look North towards the English border with the Picts (or Scotland). Would we say something has happened? Recall that it is the fantasy of a communist to rescue some process from the death knell of its entry into capital. One regrets to say, again, that there is no such thing, merely the utter baseness of that greyness with respect to that upon which anything could reliably be built. If the medievals did not yet reach this greyness, it is only because they had conceived other foundations for life. They had not yet had German idealism. If we are to use the castles, nonetheless, rejecting completely the fantasy that they really do (or did) something (which only then gets configured into a transaction), we have to somehow say: it is important that we keep the Scots out. Like our horse, it is hard to say what this really means. We see a horse out in a field and we are right to draw a ring around it and to see the greyness—whatever that might mean. There is a maggot in the belly of the horse. I have a dream in which the horses are all dead, lying in the field. We came upon the horse, and we can trust Hegel, that if ever does anything—if we can say anything on it—it will be with such a grey ring (of change) in our mouths. Change insofar as we mean transformation, or, rather, as with Lenin, the burden of necessity; the burden of its ring-abstraction, which is more real than it is. As with Marx, we will see how the horse makes a feast for the dead, for the mouths of the crop harvesters, of the scythites.

We may see that the horse is really there only insofar as we hold a grey ring before it. We compare this grey ring with another one; we measure the grey ring (of the horse itself) to the horse. We would like to think we have done so much in the world. Could we not be more like the Romans, building walls and aqueducts, installing laws? But, they built everything upon the murder of Caesar, whose death ensured the rise of Augustus. As Brutus fled, he carved a skull and bones into the stones on the outskirts of Rome. We have done nothing. We carry bushels of wheat from one field to the next. The wind and the rain still drown us. The grey sea is full of its disappointment. There is no theorem for this. In the end, when we approach the horse, to quiet it, to whisper to it, we find the heart of things is very difficult to know. We conceive of something even more abstract than a grey ring to understand things. We do not, as yet, pursue transactions, because we are not interested in simply building encyclopaedic ledgers of (dead) things. We see how these transactions worked because they were the Logik of things and could, in that way, hold anything (as that Logik). If the castles of Northumbria are needed again and we jump off our barge, where we have long stayed scared out of our minds, into the Lethe and then into something else, into something like the heart, we may understand how the need had arisen for such things. Perhaps, at the centre of my life, I will draw out a square and say,

yes, now it is time to do something; to relate mutually intelligible things. As Grothendieck will write of the incarnation of my body of the sea of the essence of things.

It is easy to apply Hegel like an acid to all of this. Himmelsäure, as Celan says. This is an important move, especially if one wants to set up mutually (grey) intelligibilities. Still, in place of a Logik, one may have a string (theory). Why shouldn’t we propose to see that also really as reality? For one thing, we must ask, again, the question of development: but is this, say, string not a development of the grey ring? We also can barely imagine how a string would ground an economy. This, however, or perhaps thankfully, is a bad question. There was a Logik, very capable as a ledger of everything, that gave way to a way of thinking about the future (also, of things) in such a way as to transact each thing very purely. There is no development, after all. This is partly the insight. Whatever we think we got, even with respect to the power of capital, was not something that worked because it really worked. It worked, like a pathology, on the basis that it was the grey reality of something. Which means that, we have it, for the sake, to quote Žižek, of looking awry; that is, we are sick with something (with reality), but this allows us to see it as the trauma, which was never clear, that it was. This is what makes room for the heart, why Wordsworth will run around Grasmere and Windermere searching for each person’s heart—to relate, to feel: yes; but as a radical conceptual move, which says, above grey rings and strings, there are hearts.

The point, however, was to say that, as a badly formulated question regarding strings, one’s task is more to see in what respect Logik was more like a dead horse in that it had been kind of equivalent, as a concept (that really exists), to riding a dead horse in the field, or, even, more strangely, setting up castles in the north. These are the grey things we have done and may do again. They are not really quite what we think they are. Whatever something like, say, our present wealth is, has more to do with dead horses than with living ones. Not, again, to export them for flesh; this is just the hysteria of capitalism as it figures out slowly how it is a Logik of things. If we continue to ride dead horses, however, we are doomed. Without question. Better that we see there is no preparation for the castles in the north. There is no formula for it. These transactions—these macroeconomic situations—like our forest exist in very strange ways, if at all. We therefore place our final words towards our lethites, who are the image of capitalism as it stands. It will ask for more dead things. It will ask us all to enter into the river, without even our barge, as the slim intersection of futures self-silences. This will not be based on any calculus; it will be equivalent with our choosing to walk into the north without any clothes on. We would be better poised to throw off these invisible circles and to accept that everything we have done is as the moving of a bushel of wheat, which is grey and mildewed too; all an image for the weakness of things. We should go into the north and build castles and keep out the scots, so to speak. We must understand that we are already doing such an act, only it is our self-hanging upon the perchhead of the river. We are the opheliamenschen and there is only a vengeful, sea-dwelling silence now awaiting us.




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