Monday, August 15, 2011


PEST – Black Metal Theory Symposium
Organized by Nicola Masciandaro, Michael O’Rourke and Karin Sellberg, in collaboration with Invictus Productions and Into the Void Records

Date:  Sunday 20 November 2011, 14.00-Close
Location: The Pint Bar, Eden Quay, Dublin, Ireland

P.E.S.T. (Philial Epidemic Strategy Tryst)

affirmation (acting as companion) of a non-survival-supporting life whose tentacles crack death open merely as a collective perversion, a philia, which progressively disterminalizes as the end of all becomings or the terminus ad quem of becomings; and is transmuted to a collapsing expanse exhumed, deflowered and scavenged by life (non-survivalist life: unlife), its netting, mazing and bonding philia: a space of becomings, so contagious and epidemic, which as Nick Land puts it, is a “Pest”, a “meltdown plague ... Death as a terminal expanse of coldness and a part of desiring-machine is messed up through the pestilential and wasteful (exorbitant) bonds of epidemic life (philia) which frantically composes new strategies of 'openness to everything' – by means of its ungrounding strategies, bonds of philia and affirmation – not merely openness as the plane of being open but rather being lacerated, cracked, butchered and laid open ... then, sewing and scavenging what have been opened through the bonds of philia and the interphyletic labyrinths of life through which becoming runs as a vermiculating, mazing machine or an engineer of labyrinthine inter-dimensionalities.
– Reza Negarestani “Death as a Perversion: Openness and Germinal Death”
 Christ on the cross appeared to me ... then summoned me to place my mouth to the wound in his side. It seemed to me that I saw and drank the blood, which was freshly flowing from his side … At times it seems to my soul that it enters into Christ’s side, and this is a source of great joy and delight. … [W]e washed the feet of the women and the hands of the men, and especially those of one of the lepers which were festering and in an advanced stage of decomposition. Then we drank the very water with which we had washed him. And the drink was so sweet that, all the way home, we tasted its sweetness and it was as if we had received Holy Communion.
– Angela of Foligno, Memorial
 To be this much in love is to be sick (and I love to be sick).
– Georges Bataille, The Impossible

Pest: any deadly epidemic disease; plague (now rare); anything destructive; any insect, fungus, etc that destroys cultivated plants; a troublesome person or thing. Pestilent: deadly; producing pestilence; hurtful to health and life; pernicious; mischievous, vexatious [Fr peste and pestilence, from L pestis, pestilential, related to perdo, to destroy, ruin, lose; cf. perditus, lost, ruined by love].

Black Metal and Theory meet in a place of mutual pestering, a dark star-crossed extra-section of their individual para-sites, a rendezvous for conspiratorial communication; unnatural and extra-natural participation. The pestilential bonding of the equally sick pair exposes and releases to the air an epidemic of openness, “not merely openness as the plane of being open but rather being lacerated, cracked, butchered and laid open” (Negarestani). Black Metal and Theory have proven to be mutually antagonistic, vexatious, and their conjoining has occasioned much annoyance on both sides: from fans of Black Metal and from ivory tower theorists. Black Metal Theory is a pest and Black Metal theorists are mischievous pesterers. It is little wonder, then, that Black Metal theory is para-academic, simultaneously beside, outside and inside the academy: “Meeting, communicating or touching the true pestilential bonds of Empedocles' philia or the contagious plateau of interphylum or epidemic openness, the resistance, any isolationist struggle, uncommunicative reaction or opposition to, remains unchanged (unmutated) becomes impossible (but appreciated as a strategy intensifying the mess, the waste of the process and engineering the exorbitant). Through the expanse of philia, everything should participate and participation has no end, nor beginning, nor horizon, nor a certain objective of participation. Infested by the epidemic (contagious and wasteful) bonds of philia, openness is triggered on all levels of its communicative lines but more on the plane of ‘being opened’ than ‘being open’ or ‘being open to’” (Negarestani, “Death as a Perversion”). Black Metal Theory perverts, infests, and invents strategies for philial deviation, cross-breeding philosophy with the love of black metal, mating orcs and elves.

Pester: to infest (archaic); annoy persistently. [Apparently from Ofr empestrer (FR empêtrer), to entangle, from L in in, and LL pāstōrium a foot-shackle, from L pāstus, pa p of pāscere to feed]

The space or plane where Black Metal and Theory feed upon each other and are shackled together is one of mutual pestering, a cascade of parasitisms where it is impossible to tell which is guest and which is host, to discern what is living and what is dead, what is natural and what is not. A philial epidemic strategy for the two-fold event of infestation necessitates a “pact with putrefaction”, the “moment of nucleation with nigredo” (Negarestani). Nothing beats the supreme intimacy of inter-laceration and mutual rot. It is the only way of being anywhere: “Infinite universe as silent as death / In this coffin I lay to rest” (Inquisition, “Astral Path to Supreme Majesties,” Ominous Doctrines of the Perpetual Mystical Macrocosm).

Pestle: an instrument for pounding or grinding.

To find strategies, or schizotrategies, which would allow for the contagious tryst between Black Metal and theory, one needs to pound reason, to grind out a pestilential rationalism. “Intelligibility is the epiphenomenon of a necrophilic intimacy ... reason reanimates the dead rather than bestowing life upon it ... intelligibility is the reanimation of the dead according to an external agency. Reason grounds the universe not only on a necrophilic intimacy but also in conformity with an undead machine imbued with the chemistry of putrefaction and nigredo” (Negarestani). One strategy for grounding the mathesis of decay is the Etruscan torture ritual where a living man or woman was tied to a rotting corpse, “shackled to their rotting double” and “left to decay.” What the Etruscan practice demonstrates is that the decay which is normally associated with the outside is always already internal to the body, to the flesh. The binding of the putrefying corpse and the living body is a strategy for necrophilic intimacy. This necroeroticism also reveals that the living are always already-dead and that the dead are always-already reanimatable. Black Metal, which is often “characterized among its followers and opponents by its ambivalent relationship with death and decay to such an extent that it is often said that the only protagonists in Black Metal are festering corpses” (Negarestani and Masciandaro “Black Metal Commentary”), is in an ambivalently necromantic relationship, a philial relationship between the living and the dead. The strategic philial tryst between the immoderate commentator, “the one who loves thinking” and “the loved one (black metal)” (Nicola Masciandaro, “Anti-Cosmosis: Black Mahapralaya”) is necrological, an erotic rotting open of the object that exceeds the correlational parameters of exegesis and interpretation. “It is the ambivalent relationship of Black Metal with death that gives rise to the most criticized aspect of Black Metal, namely, necromanticism. As a part of vitalistic investment in death, necromanticism involves a liberalist or hedonistic openness toward death in the form of a simultaneously econonomical and libidinal synthesis between desire and death ... Black Metal can also be approached from a more twisted and colder intimacy with death, an impersonal realm where the already-dead finds its voice in the living” (Masciandaro and Negarestani). This twisted nest of relations is an inescapable yet reversible catena, a black chain of being or necrophilic link of perverse (non)relations: “Love (philia) in all its forms entangles openness with closure, and ultimately closure with the radical exteriority of the outside” (Reza Negarestani, Cyclonopedia: Complicity with Anonymous Materials).

Parasite: an organism that lives in or on another living organism and derives subsistence from it without rendering it any service in return. 
Black Metal and Theory are parasites and sites of para-kinesis: para-sites. For Michel Serres parasitism is a nest of relations in a chain of feeding on, a perpetual or persistent movement where the host and guest make a good meal for the other. Serres’ parasitic relation reverses the usual notion of semiconduction, a unidirectional arrow where one thing feeds on another and gives nothing in return. It is a multi-vorous, vociferous exchange: a reciprocal interference.  Parasitism produces disharmony; it engineers noise in the system. Black Metal Theory as Philial Epidemic Strategy Tryst (P.E.S.T.) creates such a site for parasitic static, interference, black noise.

This Black Metal Theory Symposium invites speculations, commentaries, reflections, archivizations, reconceptualizations and interventions on pestilence, decay, plague, decomposition, putrefaction, rot, corpses, infestation, consumption, perversion, cannibalism, necrophilia, flesh, feeding, worms, insects, rats, rationalism, plants, ecology, swarms, maggots, fever, vampirism, waste ... among other things. “Let’s gather our contagious diseases and make love” (Negarestani, Cyclonopedia).

Live Acts:
Eternal Helcaraxe

Confirmed Participants:
Paul Ennis
Diarmuid Hester
Nicola Masciandaro
Michael O’ Rourke
Zachary Price
Karin Sellberg
Steven Shakespeare
Aspasia Stephanou
Scott Wilson
Ben Woodard

Confirmed Artists:
Vincent Como

[Image: Vincent Como, Hexe 001. Carbon paper, graphite, and invocation on paper, from a series of 23 works based on ancient defixiones, or curse tablets.]


  1. Who are the participants, what are their credentials, and what format will the symposium take? Lectures & Q+A? That type of thing?

    Lorcan- Dublin

  2. See the latest post on this blog, which shows schedule, participants, and abstracts:

  3. Who wants to see for FREE the entire symposium recorded from a streaming transmission go RMEDL | METASOUND