by the Head Philosopher, Shane Brighton
Provisional Orientation.1.
I want to begin by suggesting that necronautism be situated within the age in which we live. By this I mean that a central aspect within the development of the contemporary world is the deployment of ‘ craft’ - the conjoining of technology, power and knowledge - for the appropriation of death. This appropriation has been, is, and will be, carried out in the name of some totalising, that is totalitarian, view of life.
In our manifesto death becomes valuable, which is to say useful, through being given the properties of an object; properties like spatiality, mapability and the possibility of penetration and domination. Henceforth, like war, necronautism uses death as a means to an end, an attempt to realise a particular view of life. In our manifesto this view of life proceeds through enjoyment as the experience of beauty.
So, the necronautic aspiration to a craft proceeds by deriving use-value through the objectification of death. We should therefore begin with some modesty – an admission that, in the present age, forming craft to objectify and make use of death to achieve some particular end is perhaps the least original of ideas.
Further, as an aspiration to craft, necronautism has a pre-history. It is always and already contaminated by what the theologian and philosopher Edith Wyschogrod has named simply ‘the cataclysm ’ – the advent of man made mass-death and the perfection of its associated technologies in the twentieth century.
From here, I propose the first questions of necronautism as a philosophical orientation. These questions proceed from an archaeology of necronautism’s fundamental logics and take the form of continuous, insistent and repetitious ethical questioning.
What is it to appropriate death? What is to understand death as ‘for’ something else? That is, to make death a tool, to comport ourselves towards death instrumentally?
In short, why yet again, in an age exhausted by such projects, make death the object of utilitarian logics?
Provisional Orientation 2.
It might be charged that these questions proceed in an overly abstract way. This abstraction is overcome through stating again how the cataclysm, as the pre-history of necronautism, is in fact the history of the present moment.
In its strategy of objectification and use, necronautism proceeds through consumption and the figuring of death as a commodity to be enjoyed. The very premises of our manifesto are enunciations of death as something exterior to, outside of life – only to be brought in as a means to enjoyment.
But such a view more than runs the risk of being a symptom of a cultural complacency. The manifesto was, and could only have been, produced in a society where life span is expanding and birth rates are falling.
The idea of death as beauty proceeds from social and cultural conditions in which it is already rendered abstract - mediated and removed sufficiently that it can be given reductive, object-like properties. Our manifesto presupposes the removal of death as immediate and at one with the experience of living.
This removal is in turn indistinguishable from the conditions of life in late-capitalist North Atlantic Democracies. Conditions of life that proceed, in their every moment, through reproducing conditions of murderous inequality on a global scale. Our mediation of death - our commodification of it, our rendering it beautiful and virtual – will always depend on its being realised as immediate, in famine, in disease and in war, elsewhere.
The forms of relationality by which death is sufficiently removed from life to be made an object with a use-value are preconditioned by a privileged relation to death bought largely at the expense of a dead other.
I would conclude by proposing a motion. This motion is to be understood in the following terms. If necronautism is to proceed philosophically it cannot do so constructively as a science of craft, but rather should begin deconstructively and phenomenologically. I would illustrate this conclusion with reference to the central contradiction of our manifesto – the simultaneous insistences that we are always-already necronauts and that necronautism needs to invent itself as a practice. We should understand that if we are always-already necronauts then our craft is always-already underway. The task of necronautic philosophy is the description of necronautic craft in its worldly realisations, its manifestation as an interplay of cultural logics.
The originality of necronautism is henceforth not the fabrication of craft but its identification. Our work lays not in the construction but in the enunciation of something already present.
Until such time as this approach is developed, and in keeping with the ethical injunction from which necronautism as a philosophical practice begins, I move that – from now, in connection with first manifesto of necronautism, the words ‘philosopher’ and ‘philosophy’ be written under erasure.