162. Youthful folly (IV)
What is the Internet? The Internet is the root network, it comes from the lower depths: the fundamental structure of the Internet is the tangle of fibre optic lines that transmit information across the world. This is the realm of energy, but not energy in the sense meant by physicists. To explain: imagine yourself in the film Alien; imagine that you have been sent to flush out the beast, sent into network of tunnels in the starship Nostromo. In the black, you can almost see something in the nothingness—you are are familiar with the way the black of darkness can contain reds or purples and little lacunae. This blackness is pure energy, pure potential; sometimes it seems to swirl a little—was it…the beast? No, you can lower the flamethrower for the moment; the eddy in the darkness was potential, but it never snapped into actuality. Then, fast as thought, it is on you: the blackness snaps into resolution, the beast is on you—death is on you.
This beast energy is what we find on the root network of the Internet; it is the realm of the conatus known to Spinoza or the “Will” of Schopenhauer and Nietzsche. The Internet is information—literally light in the case of fibre optics—flowing from point to point. This is analogous to the chaotic blackness of the tunnel on the Nostromo; it could be anything: this is the potential of chaos. Occasionally, at a terminal—at the level of the web, not the Internet—the potential energy is snapped into a concrete thing, into the beast itself; perhaps into the chaos god Pepe-Kek on a 4chan forum. It is at the web level, with the user, that the chaotic novelty of the Internet’s beast energy becomes an actual thing, a thing that can stalk the Earth.
The Internet is an underground organism, just like the rhizome; it is also, being full of beast energy, just like Hell—complete with child pornography and beheadings. The Devil—Lucifer, the light-bringer—is the master of invention. Should we scorn the Internet? No, because, as with Dante’s Inferno, the labyrinth to Paradise runs through the centre of Hell, where Satan himself resides in frozen ice—we climb down his fur into Paradise; as we climb down Satan’s fur, we will, at a certain point, find ourselves going upward: so, as C.G. Jung observed, we must find Heaven by sinking our roots to Hell—we must go the depth of the Internet to find the silk road.
The computer, just like the I Ching, makes use of simple binary oppositions to create complexity. The I Ching’s trigram is created through a solid and a broken line: it has three sides, two solids and the nothingness—a combination that reflects the fractal and its affinity for recursive complexity, often through triangular combinations. Leibniz published his binary theories, developed from the I Ching, in 1666—a significant date, being a solar number in alchemy—and so contributed to the development of the modern computer, though this was not apparent at the time. So far we have only explored the mystery of “1” and “0”; we are, with quantum computing, about to explore the possibilities in between: the infinite space between “1” and “0”.
The Internet is, therefore, an enormous divinatory tool: it is an electronic version of the I Ching, a device for summoning novelty—for summoning inspirational daemons. This explains the Internet’s uncanny ability to throw up novelties and connections between things—to develop startling insights and provoke synchronicities. We find analogue equivalents to the Internet in cities: every city is a network of streets, sewers, cables, and people—every city is a divinatory tool for generating novelty, no less than the human brain or the Milky Way. This is what Nick Land means by acceleration; not a movement in space or time, but the use of the city and the Internet to generate maximum novelty—to summon inspirational daemons, to bring light.