Journal #102 - Franco “Bifo” Berardi and Massimiliano Geraci - Killing Swarm
Journal #102
September 2019
Journal #102 - September 2019

Killing Swarm

Photo: Istubalz

 

We would like to present some excerpts from our novel KS, translated from the Italian Morte ai Vecchi (Baldini & Castoldi, 2016), that will soon be published in a full English translation.

It is the story of a killing swarm that emerges from the collective unconscious of a multitude of youngsters—an ecstatic frenzy that results in a worldwide wave of murders of old people. But it is also a gnostic and psychedelic history of the relations between code and author, the creation and destruction of worlds, and a reflection on the generative power of writing.

Café Vishnu

Federica showed up for her appointment with the person who had agreed to purchase her soul. She walked into the dimly lit Café Vishnu. There was a guy putting oranges into the mammoth juice press and she asked him politely, “Do you happen to know Mr. Mehta?”

He jerked his chin toward the other side of the room, and Federica felt faint. She was tempted to flee. Under a lamp, in the cavernous dark of the café, she thought she recognized Isidoro in profile. She held her breath and froze for a moment, but before she could leave, he turned around. He got up and walked over to her, hand extended.

“You must be Miss Federica Vitale. We’ve never met, but I feel as though I’ve always known you.” Federica relaxed. He had a much deeper voice than her father’s high, tremulous one. The color of his hair and the shape of his nose were different, as was his height. Isidoro was a few centimeters taller than Simon, but Simon was more brawny and masculine.

“I’m familiar with your résumé, Miss,” he said to her as he sat down. Federica sat across from him, worried. “I know that you’ve studied some very interesting things, and you’ve written things I’d like to know more about. I know a lot about you. Not to worry, I’m not a spy. But you do possess the characteristics we’re looking for.”

Curled up under Simon’s chair—or rather, stretched out in all its gleaming blackness—was an animal more wolf than dog, who was watching the new arrival. Federica only noticed it at that moment, and its gaze staring at her through the darkness scared her.

Simon stretched a hand out to stroke the glossy back of the animal. He asked with concern, “Are you afraid of dogs?”

Federica shook her head. “Just the opposite. I love them.”

“Minos knows how to be a real gentleman, if that puts you at ease. But we can also lock him in the basement.”

Minos smiled gruesomely and growled.

Simon Mehta looked up with an obsequious smile, caressing his top lip with his index finger. “Back to us, Miss. I’ve brought the documents for the transfer of your soul, as we had arranged. Do you mind if I smoke?”

He lit a cigarillo that gave off an intense woodsy smell, then took a sheet of paper from the bag lying on the table.

“This is the contract. Please read it carefully.”

He handed her a pen. Federica held it in midair while she read clauses that she couldn’t make heads or tails of. The man exuded an intensely sweet scent. His green eyes were circled with black.

Federica signed after reading that the Mehta Agency was acquiring all the rights to her soul, for the duration of three non-renewable months, by mutual agreement. She handed back the pen, trying to keep her eyes fixed on his.

“And now?” she asked after signing.

“Now what?”

“Now what am I supposed to do?”

Mehta shrugged his shoulders and stretched out his hands. “Nothing. Do what you want, Miss. We have reserved a sunny room for you here in our residence. We’re not asking you to do anything. Your signature is enough.”

He poured some green liqueur into two glasses. Federica drank.

She closed her eyes and sighed deeply, like the moment when Vishnu falls asleep, and the world takes shape while he is unconscious.

Rizatriptan

Isidoro Vitale awoke with a terrible headache. He’d had them for decades, but recently the attacks were becoming more frequent. He would wake up with an intense pain in his temples that almost kept him from breathing. Luckily, that morning he could stay in bed.

Unlike most other days, he didn’t need to wake up in a hurry to rush to school and get mixed up in that strange, clamorous swarm. He stayed stretched out, immobile, eyes half-closed, trying to breathe deeply in the hope the pain might flow down out of his temples and behind his ears, down his neck, and melt away, slowly, slowly. He needed to close his eyes, inhale and exhale in a regular rhythm, swallow a rizatriptan tablet, and wait for the pain to ease. He waited a long time until the drug took effect, until the pressure on his temples diminished. With his eyes closed, he inspected the deepest recesses of his circulation, all the way to the suffering places in his brain, and he silently took part in the slow work of their decongesting. He imagined molecules of rizatriptan furtively tunneling into his veins and staging a graceful dance to convince his neurons to relax.

Illustration: Barbara Gaddi

The Interference

The official launch of KapSoul had been set for April. Six months before the program launched, there was a pilot phase. A few thousand devices were circulated to a select group. For a time, they had demonstrated the anticipated effect: waves of empathic excitement, and collective dances in which the laws of gravity seemed temporarily suspended.

Then, just after Federica’s death, the wave became menacing, suddenly turning into an inexplicable orgy of violence. The wave of violence involved growing numbers of adolescents, and not only those who were using the KapSoul test chips. It was as though the psychoelectric impulse had stimulated hidden energies, long repressed, which were now liberated in a contagious way. April had passed, and the official launch had been suspended.

The program needed a patch. They needed to find the malfunction, the error, the interference.

“Interference” was the most appropriate word to use, according to Luca.

Something was interfering with the empathic wave, turning it claustrophobic, aggressive, murderous.

Something was interfering... but what? They needed to hurry up and answer the question, resolve the problem, fix the disaster, so that the product could be launched on the market and the shareholders could recoup their investment. Luca knew these things well. He was in a hurry. He suspected that the interference hinged on Federica, but he hadn’t spoken about this to anyone. Not even with Walanski, the short engineer, who had been in charge of the implementation phase.

Luca would have liked to say to him, “Dear Walanski, in order to solve the problem I need to get in touch with Federica, urgently.” But Walanski would have thought he was nuts for saying it.

“You are aware that Federica is dead?”

This was why Luca needed to speak to Isidoro. He knew well that Federica and her father had had such a deep emotional bond that perhaps, by analyzing the psychic structure of one, it might be possible to rebuild the essential elements of the other.

He wasn’t sure Isidoro would be useful to him, but he had to make every effort to deactivate the process that was leading his project to failure.

Failure? It was worse than that. His work had involuntarily unleashed a global catastrophe. It was an outlandish hypothesis, that the murderous deviation of KapSoul was being caused by Federica’s influence in the final phase of the program’s creation. But it was one entirely worth testing. It was the only one he had. So, he decided to go out and look for Isidoro once again, by going to his house in person. He mounted his cycle and rode through sunny streets to the area where Federica’s father lived, near the the Borgosano mall.

All of the windows of the building were closed. The front door was open. He climbed to the second floor, where Professor Vitale’s apartment was. Stuck to the door with a thumbtack was a folded note with the name Luca written on it in large letters.

He took it down nervously and read it.

“I’d prefer not to see you. I won’t be writing to the address you left me. I’m leaving. I don’t want to know anything about this. Let me be.

Isidoro Vitale.”

Mel

After an unfocused day, whose details blurred together with those of the previous day, the preceding months, and the ones still to come, Mel finished his ritual and got in bed, gaming to bring on sleep.

A keen premonition
A slow season
An abyss aflame
A deserted bone
An absent-minded flight
A twin wing

Luca, whom he had met online a few months earlier, taught him that words are marvelous toys to play around with, that they are the clay with which you build a world, or building blocks you can use to provoke your very own god. He never got tired of repeating to him that once you add a new poem to it, the world is no longer the same.

In spite of the boy’s insistence, they never met in person.

Luca had taught him how poetry can speak about shipwrecks, about a current under the sea that picks bones in whispers, of unskilled actors and of trains that puff across a landscape of lemons, of high schooners in a sky heavy with foreboding, and about nothing—yes, the nothingness that dwells inside an almond.

An indecipherable face
An upended street
An eternal caress
A blurry greeting
An indestructible intertwining
A heart that opens to the world
A white eruption
An exhausted chain
A miraculous aperture

He usually needed to keep at this for hours before falling asleep. Or else he took half a Minias, or a Halcion, depending on whether he wanted a yellow or a light blue pill.

Nine complete sweeps of the hour hand and he awoke. It was late morning—almost lunch time, from what his internal clock could make out. He heard Martina talking in the kitchen (he couldn’t stand his grandmother’s stupid, chatty exuberance), and there was also a man’s voice he didn’t recognize. He heard her call him “Isidro, Isidro sweetie,” and he imagined her twirling around as she said the name.

Without getting out from under the covers, he grabbed the remote and flooded the plasma screen with pictures. Its flat surface seemed to ripple with an evening breeze. There was an undulating lake of images he wanted to disappear into.

He saw streams of ink climb like branches onto the walls and stretch out lazily in clumps of mallow-scented petals.

He saw an outline of the sun, a corolla with the radiant force of a lion and two ancient samurai facing off in an ultra-pop Japanese Ukiyo-e print.

And the man with the unsmiling mask found himself in the middle of a cold, square, silver slab made of liquid that was pouring into the surrounding void. Then he popped up on a black beach and had a keyhole in the middle of his forehead into which he put the key, turned it twice to the left, and the planets around his head began to rotate in harmony.

There were other thirteen year olds with their faces painted white. Push the button. My penguin is on the button, so push the button. Do it, your skill is your skin and I want to take it...

Now that he was completely awake, he turned off the monitor and started one of the playlists his neo-hippie mom had bequeathed to him.

Some prayers never reach the sky
Some wounds never heal.

A Beer Drinker

A deserted road, silence and sun. There was an abandoned warehouse nearby. An old man sat on the steps at the entrance, a bottle of beer in his hand and a straw hat tipped forward on his head. He was dozing. When Alex passed by, the old man startled awake and toasted him in greeting, bringing the bottle to his lips. Alex kept going another hundred meters and had rounded a corner when he heard a burst of electronic drumbeats like machine-gun fire at the end of the alley, ripping apart the quiet afternoon. Then children’s voices quickly drew near.

He turned back to see what was happening and saw a dozen half-naked young boys with silver crowns around their temples wearing transparent plastic coveralls with shiny blue appliqués. They were dancing chaotically, jumping up and turning pirouettes in mid-air. The old man had woken up and looked gape-mouthed at the small crowd rapidly approaching.

Alex hid behind a wall and had a premonition. He wanted to see without being seen.

And so he saw. He saw a boy of maybe thirteen who had a light blue streak painted on his face approach the old beer drinker with quick steps and launch a small metal ball bearing at him. It was attached to the boy’s hand with an elastic strap and returned to his hand almost instantly.

The ball hit the old man right in the face, and when it withdrew to the boy’s hand, that face was no longer a face. The old man’s beard was a reddish shrub, and the beer bottle rolled on the ground without breaking. Then the boy dashed forward on a skateboard and started hitting him with the deck. It was decorated with an image of Dalek’s Space Monkey, which had a bloodied axe in one hand, and the usual toxic discharge coming from his ass. Alex’s eyes were wide open and he was filled with terror.

The boy smashed his deck on the nape of the old drunk. Three girls, seeming to come straight out of the pages of Gothic & Lolita Bible in their Victorian lace dresses, surrounded him, alternating wails with coarse laughter. Another one approached with quick dance steps wearing the long black wings of an avenging angel on her shoulders. She gazed contentedly at the bloody pulp. Finally, a pair of ultrathin dancers, wrapped in a tangle of white gauze held together by luminescent pins, stopped in front of the old lifeless man and with the long pins they pierced him through, as though he were a butterfly they were pinning to a wall—a butterfly unaware of both its guilt and its fate. Off to the side, immobile, the hologram of a girl observed the scene, or at least in the violent sunlight of the afternoon, this is how it looked to Alex. He couldn’t see it clearly, but it seemed to be made from the same material as rays of moonlight.

Then, with the same incomprehensible, harmonic elegance with which they had arrived, in shared ecstasy, the kids scattered in various directions. It did not feel like a crime scene. It seemed more like a parlor game, or a Dadaist dance performance. The sky was clear and the light so bright that it seemed like a movie shot with a digital camera. The music, the voices, and the wind combined in a deafening rhythmic jumble, and Alex suddenly felt joy internally, as though they were inserting needles under his skin in a prolonged electrocution, live and in real time, within the universal flow of excitement. Hiding and typing quickly on his handheld, he wrote words that were impossible to understand, even for himself:

When the brain is reduced to a sponge because it is congested with images that you can’t make heads or tails of, you can only make sense of it via a compulsive repetition of stimuli at high speed. Everything has already happened and nothing is exciting. The future takes shape in a hazy way, and you will experience everything without amazement. Here we have souls detached from bodies that are twirling around, unconscious and perfect in their movements, as though a super-individual conscience were guiding them from within. They cannot tolerate hairy bodies with smallpox vaccine scars on their arms like cows for the slaughter. They cannot tolerate heaviness. They have a certain way of being in space and time, and they have their own rhythm, unintelligible to us human beings. And that rhythm seizes them with compelling force and takes them to heights from which they can see matter dissolve, matter that was once thought to be eternal. A rhythm that pervades the galvanic plasma they swim in, an information soup that stimulates their antennae, dragging them into the oblivious dance...

It’s like the memory of a dream that leaves illegible traces—like something that I know but cannot manage to think of in words.

He felt excited, so as soon as he could come out from behind the wall, he rushed to the newsroom and showed his notes to his editor Biagetti, who squinted at him.

“This isn’t some kind of sci-fi or philosophy magazine. It’s clear you know how to write but stop blathering. Our readers can’t swallow this kind of stuff!”

Maybe Biagetti was right. Perhaps he’d let his emotions and fantasy carry him too far.

“But what I saw... I saw it, for real,” he thought, trying to find the right tone for an article that could be understood by the readers of the newspaper.

He was looking for the right words to say what he had seen, without letting his imagination get the best of him. At the same time, he thought about the situation he was in.

He knew well that this was a conventional two-bit paper, and he needed to resign himself to writing for readers who had no interest in flights of fancy. The editor in chief was a good person, but he didn’t like to stray too far from general opinion. Even Biagetti, like everyone else, accepted the predominant explanation for these episodes of gerontomachy which were multiplying across the globe. Like everyone else, he also believed there was some sort of international terrorist army going after moribund baby boomers, in order to get them out of the way as quickly as possible.

Like everyone, he thought the motive was political—the very young rising up against the excessive power of the old, opposing the greed of the most privileged generation of all time, consuming all available resources. Sociological trivialities.

But a bird in flight has no idea of the shape of its flock. The idea of a flock emerges from creatures that are completely unaware of their collective form, of its size and formation. A bird that joins a flock is blind to the grace and cohesiveness of the geometries of flight. After their flash action, those kids return to their daily activities. They do their homework and curl up in front of the TV to watch a reality show. The brain of a bee can remember things for six days, but the beehive as a whole has a memory of three months, which is twice the average life span of a bee. Ah, I forgot—producing a single spoonful of honey takes the entire life span of twelve bees. Think of that the next time you spread honey on a piece of toast. Think of it, my friend. It is for these reasons that Alex had written all of this in his notes, but unfortunately Biagetti didn’t appreciate it.

“Try again,” he said. “Try to be more objective.”

In the four months he spent as a beekeeper, Alex had sometimes risked his hand to transfer entire colonies out of the trees they’d nested in. Once, when he had to move a hive, he took a saw and made gashes in an old fallen tree. The poor tree was gangrenous and the hollow core filled with hives. The more he cut into the core of the tree, the more bees he found. They filled a cavity that was almost as big as he was. It was a cloudy day and all the bees were home and stressed out by the surgical intervention. Finally, Alex plunged his hand in that agglomeration of honeycomb. It was very hot. Crowded with a hundred thousand cold-blooded insects, the hive had become a warm-blooded organism. The warm honey flowed like dense blood. It felt as though he had plunged his hand into the cavity of a dying animal.

Illustration: Barbara Gaddi

Doses

Professor Forza got up with a movement that was slow and powerful, pushing himself up on the armrests of his chair and turning to the back of his office, where there was a mysterious alcove in the dark, a fetid lair barely concealed by a screen.

“Come, come—this is where I keep my personal pharmacy,” he said to Isidoro Vitale. “What did you think I was really doing when you knocked on my door, working on lesson plans? No, my dear friend. Lesson plans can go fuck themselves as far as I’m concerned. I was calculating. I was calculating the amount of selegiline in my blood. It counteracts neurodegenerative processes and the inexorable death of dopamine neurons. You also have to keep track of serotonin, and stimulate its synthesis in your intestinal cells—by the way, did you know that we practically have a second brain, which leads directly to our assholes? You must give the organism the building block of serotonin, tryptophan, and then inhibit the neurons that reuptake serotonin, so its levels stay high in the brain. It’s a complex alchemical procedure, don’t you think? Weeding out the dark moods and following the twisted path from darkness to light. Nigredo and albedo, like you taught me. But times have changed, Professor Vitale. Today it does not do to disturb the purifying flames. Every answer can be found in chemistry, the most metaphysical of the exact sciences. The supreme art to be learned is that of dosage, of equilibrium. I’ve been studying it for years. Don’t trust doctors. They speak of synergistic interactions and deploy their molecules in ineffectual ways, over or underdosing, superimposing drug vectors that bust out in the same direction, as though it somehow made sense to prefer sedation or excitement, memory or forgetting. The secret is the old coniunctio oppositorum, the unity of opposites. You see here, in the same glass, forty drops of tapentadol, a synthetic opioid, and six hundred milligrams of modafinil, which are two antagonists, you might say. All of this accompanied by a healthy gram of oxiracetam, so as not to ‘keep your clarity in your underpants,’ as that reviled, anarchist bard1 you surely remember used to sing. Follow this diet and just like me, you will be able to distill for yourself moments of absolute clarity. Follow me, Professor Vitale, please follow me.”

It was the first time the headmaster had admitted him to his sancta sanctorum, that cave he had heard so many tales about, during the long empty hours in the teachers’ lounge. Back there, in the half-light, he saw a couch covered with boxes of all shapes and colors. On the floor nearby, there were vials, bottles, envelopes, doses, double doses, syringes, blister packs, celluloid envelopes, samples not for commercial sale, free samples. The headmaster towered over that expanse of medicine, and said with triumphant self-confidence to Isidoro, who was contemplating the pharmacopeia with his jaw dropped, “I’m sure this will help you.” And he bent down, confidently inserting his hand in the pile, and extracted a mysterious box.

He held it out with paternal firmness to Professor Vitale and said, “Take this, take it, my friend... it is just the thing for cases of stress like yours. As far as your decision to come back to work, you could come back tomorrow. I won’t say no... But first, I’d like to discuss a few things with you. Let’s sit.”

He showed poor Isidoro, who was now starting to feel uneasy, his way to the couch, sweeping aside a few boxes of Zoloft, a pile of boxes of Jumex, and a mysterious brown glass jug with Chinese characters on the label. Once Isidoro was seated, sunken into the cushions and the boxes, the big man stood facing him, put his hands on his sides and stuck his belly out, and hissed with an insinuating voice, “You didn’t happen to recognize any of the kids from Section C among the attackers of our poor custodians the other evening?”

Isidoro’s eyes popped open all of a sudden. How had he failed to consider it? He reviewed the scene he had witnessed, and followed on the very low-definition screen of his mind the excited bouncing, the spasmodic dancing, and finally the amoeba-like movement with which those boys and girls had slithered over Rosso and Nerina, devouring them, and he realized that he hadn’t focused on anyone’s face in particular.

“No, now that I think about it, I don’t think so, Sir,” he replied after a lame moment of contemplation. “You know, the police interrogated me, but they didn’t seem too interested in discovering anything. As you know, it’s not the first time something like this has happened. Actually they’re saying that there’s some kind of War of the Pig2 thing happening, that’s what I’ve heard the cops calling it. But that officer, zilch. He didn’t give a crap. Naturally now I’ll have to speak with a judge about it. I expect I’ll be called in the next few days, and I’ll have to talk about it again. But now that you asked me this question, I realize that I wasn’t able to remember even one of their faces.” Isidoro’s tone of voice lowered, and now he was almost mumbling.

Professor Forza was absent-minded for a moment, his mouth contorted with disgust. He added, “I wasn’t there and I didn’t see anything, so I can’t know more than you do. But I’ve started making inquiries around here... and I have some hypotheses and some convictions. I’m watching them from the school gate, these individuals who come in every morning looking sleepy. I’m watching them under a microscope...” Professor Forza was speaking in an agitated way, as though he were in pursuit of a truth discovered just a moment ago, that escaped when he tried to pin it down with words. There was no way Isidoro could know that in the early hours of that morning, Forza had taken a massive dose of Z-14, the new molecule that unblocks inhibitors and turns you into a flooding river, an unconscious machine of unstoppable production, a sort of sequence of automatic conversation, a cadavre exquis.

Forza bent his knees under the weight of momentary surrender and let himself fall on the other side of the couch, provoking a landslide of pharmaceuticals.

“Now I really must go,” said Isidoro, seeing that the situation might become embarrassing.

“Yes, yes, please go, Professor Vitale. But before you leave, allow me to say what I think about the young boys we are paid to educate. And the girls too, it goes without saying. You see, in olden times, humans thought of themselves, from one generation to the next, as dwarves who sat on the shoulders of giants. We are small, they said, but from this position, we are able to see far off—even farther than the giants who preceded us. This story has now ended. Do you understand? The generation born after Hiroshima thought it could topple tradition. We are giants on the shoulders of dwarves, yelled our younger siblings, the ones who are now fifty years old and groveling for a position in the Research Department of a Corporation that sucks out the brains of children. We’re giants, hah! Do you get it? Those bastards of ’68 went around saying ‘we’re the right ones, the beautiful ones, nothing at all like our fathers, those pigs.’ Think about fathers and sons in Germany, in ’68. What a mess. ‘Dad, did you torture Communists? Did you take a Jew’s teeth out with pliers?’ they’d ask at Easter dinner. ‘Dad, did you torture someone when you were a boy?’ They said those things. And now they run a newspaper or a prime time talk show, and zap! They remove tongues with big old scissors, and they don’t want to talk about torture anymore. They don’t care about it at all. Of course, today’s torturers are more photogenic, or at least they try to be. They were giants on the shoulders of dwarves, and now? Well, let’s leave it be. Let’s drop it. Because I know that you, Professor Vitale, also had the generation of ’68 cause some problems in your own family...”

Isidoro was stunned but remained sunken into the couch listening.

“At the beginning of the 90s in America, a movement took hold called the Thirteenth Generation. This is a way to label those born after the Vietnam defeat, the thirteenth generation of American history, and they are the first generation in history that must realistically expect a decline in consumption, in life spans, and most of all, a decline in quality of life. So, some time ago I read a manifesto written by these illuminated spirits of the Thirteenth Generation—even their name is bad luck—a manifesto in which they accused their baby boomer parents of squandering their future, of consuming everything that was consumable, of having wasted their time with libertarian political experiments that produced the current decline. Do you see where we stand?” He gave him a superior look, while Isidoro tried and failed to wipe from his face the idiotic smile he’d worn while listening.

“Either way,” continued the uncontrollable headmaster, “either way, now there is nothing left but dwarves. Dwarves, get it? Dwarves and fathers, dwarves and sons. Sure, the human race has gained a few centimeters in height, after Hiroshima, thanks to the vitamins and other pharmaceuticals that enabled the dwarves to grow tall and strong. And then you may discover that the kid in the third row who’s asking you a question about the history syllabus happens to be one of the murderers of our poor custodians. Don’t get me wrong, I’m saying it just to say it. That kid in the third row or even the fourth or the back row, or that daydreaming young lady who’s thinking about love.”

“I’ll think about it,” said Isidoro in a small voice, struggling through the cushions and trying to stand. Finally, when he had gotten back on two feet, he stumbled towards the door, opened it, turned, and added, “So I’ll be back at work tomorrow. I’ll be here at 9:40.”

But Professor Forza, from the dimness in which he remained sunken, ushered him out with one last mysterious word: “Let’s talk about this again soon, Professor Vitale. I have something to tell you that may interest you. We are preparing a reaction... it’s still possible to do something. Very soon, we will have a chance to speak about this again, and God willing, progress toward action.”

Isidoro paid no mind to the headmaster’s ravings. He gave a sort of bow, opened the door, and disappeared.

“Smoke? No thanks,” enjoined an enormous poster on the wall. At the bottom of the poster, scrawled in pencil, was a phrase that Isidoro had learned by heart: “I had to choose between the good and the bad and I chose the bad and until now everything has been fine.” The hallway was empty. The custodians were hiding, crouched in their forts. The knowledge transmission machine diligently buzzed along behind classroom doors.

Dangerous Games

Harmony is emotional connection—the free flow of energies without will. Luca and Federica called this Co-sensibility. In order to translate this principle into something effective, replicable, and communicable, they needed computer code and access to the human psychomotor system. Federica explained to Luca that mirror neurons activate when an action is completed or even just imagined among the many possible actions that an environment allows.

Luca was programming an associative machine, the subroutine of a broader artificial intelligence that could instantly create chains of elements in a continuously expanding superorganism. The new chains would integrate themselves in the system and become available simultaneously to brains exposed to its radiation.

Psychotropic substances only deactivate the filters that limit our associative capacities. They permit us to veer off the safe, logico-deductive tracks of sequential thought, and execute reckless fuzzy leaps. You find the boundary when you must cross the plane of expression. The entheogenic satori is inexpressible. Distinctions lose all meaning; the theater of the ego falls to pieces. The spermatic ocean is unnavigable and the only way to understand it is to dissolve yourself in it. The universal mind lattice runs off holes in language—not even poetic language can contain it, nebulous and polysemous as it is, nor knitting it tightly together to push its possibilities of condensation to the max. Language imposes continual decisions, and projects an order over apparent disorder. Its representations of chaos are simple simulations. Even delusion has a certain grammar, albeit an unpredictable one. On the other hand, the simultaneous is not orderable or decidable. But, in the end, a drugged brain makes its own decisions. You can follow more streams of thought, but not very long ones, and never all of them. And so? You quiet all the voices in your head. Renounce speech and open yourself to silence. This is what Federica taught Luca, when she disappeared without a word, pouring into him that river of silence. But the associative machine could not be stopped at that point. There were still no transfer interfaces that could talk to the living matter in its own language. They needed a supersymmetry that could propagate in the chain of electronic devices and living matter. Once the wave is activated, it continues to reproduce in unpredictable parts of the psycho-electric ocean.

×

Excerpted from Morte ai Vecchi (Baldini & Castoldi, 2016). This excerpt is translated from the Italian by Deborah Wassertzug.

Franco Berardi, aka “Bifo,” founder of the famous Radio Alice in Bologna and an important figure in the Italian Autonomia movement, is a writer, media theorist, and social activist. His most recent books are Breathing: Chaos and Poetry (Semiotexte, 2018) and The Second Coming (Polity, 2019).

Massimiliano Geraci is an anti-prohibition activist, expert in psychedelia, poetry, visionary art, and pop surrealism, and has edited the art books True Visions (2006) and Mutant Kiddies (2003).

© 2019 e-flux and the author
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Notes - Killing Swarm
1

Translator’s note: lyrics from Léo Ferré’s “La Solitude” (1971).

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2

Translator’s note: Adolfo Bioy Casares, Diary of the War of the Pig (1969).

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Translator’s note: lyrics from Léo Ferré’s “La Solitude” (1971).

Translator’s note: Adolfo Bioy Casares, Diary of the War of the Pig (1969).

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