The Cave Cathedral

a Critique of Dick Sang's Rhett of Hades

Melinda Bates - 𝌻𝌩

Cybergothic anthropology is not what it used to be. Previously a niche of hyperstition studies focusing chiefly on the Nma and the Black Atlanteans, a recent surge of interest in past research collectives has abruptly shifted its focus. Most experts in the field would agree this transition has been fraught with difficulties—sadly, I would go so far as to say it's been ruinous. Hack scholarship has been turning up left and right, claiming to revive long-dead groups such as the CCRU and the New Centre for Research & Practice. A great number of frauds and hucksters have even claimed to be ex-members of such organizations, some of which have even gained pseudo-credibility. For example, three extant social media accounts (one inactive) currently claim to be Nick Land to considerable popular repute, and others enjoy lesser but still substantial acceptance. Despite the obvious impossibility of such claims, hyperstitional anthropologists must now accept that they seriously impact the public understanding of our field.

At times like these, genuine scholars must be careful not to feed into further disinfo. While it would be unconscionable to claim Dick Sang is anything less than a top mind in cybergothic anthropology, I would, however, contend that he has failed the standard of the times. Rhett of Hades propagates ideas about the history of hyperstition which are not only dubious, but seriously detrimental. This is less because of factual errors—which are certainly present, but excusable when dealing with ambiguous material—but because of the mindset behind Sang's work. I would contend RoH to be a work of revisionist history, geared to suit Sang's political narrative at the expense of the dignity of his field.

RoH makes a bold claim: that after the extinction of the hyperstitional milieu known in retrospect as RhettTwitter, it was survived by a successor. Taking inspiration from the Italian caves in which RhettTwitter and adjacent entities (such as Gruppo di Nun) were uncovered, Sang terms this secondary milieu CaveTwitter. This renaming is arguably spurious. Because Twitter is a term for a social group unified in and by the process of its abolition (TWITTER = AQ-178 = ABOLITION = CATACLYSM), the idea of a Twitter successive to the abolition of another Twitter is terminologically confused. If I were to indulge, I would claim that Sang, who certainly knows this much, has named CaveTwitter for sensationalist reasons to popularize his own work—but in the interests of restraint, I will accept his terms for the purpose of this critique.

The central argument of Rhett of Hades is that CaveTwitter was responsible for the setup of RhettTwitter. Sang differentiates between two classes of figures previously all grouped under RhettTwitter: those which are really unique, and those which are paradox clones of a doomed timeline of the CCRU. It is his claim that a fragment of this timeline from the WarwickTwitter era was sectioned off by CaveTwitter and sent to Italy to supply material for RhettTwitter. These members emerged gradually as members of CaveTwitter, or RhettTwitter before its merging into CaveTwitter. At the collapse of CaveTwitter, some members travelled back to the alpha timeline of WarwickTwitter and founded ShanghaiTwitter, while others migrated to Australia and into MelbourneTwitter.

On its own, this theory has its uses. If further substantiated, it would answer major questions about the RhettTwitter era. For one, it explains the existence of apparent copies of banished members of the CCRU in RhettTwitter (e.g. Amy Ireland as Sade de Plant, Matt Colcolhon as Mark Fischer). It would also seriously bolster Three Nicks Theory and explain the disappearance of Nishiki Prestige. Sang argues that Prestige, travelling back from the end of CaveTwitter, first usurped his future self as Nick Land in order to write and publish The Dark Enlightenment, and then, after handing over Nickship to sd, travelled further back to replace the original Nick Land before the publication of "Kant, Capital, and the Prohibition of Incest." This also constitutes an explanation for the glitched reemergence of very early Nick Land as Nix Land in the RhettTwitter (for Sang, CaveTwitter) era, as the copy of Land from the alternate timeline hijacked by CaveTwitter. These are major and plausible advances in cybergothic anthropology, lending a clear and intuitive explanation to previously more difficult to understand phenomena—for this, Sang deserves to be credited.

I will note that Sang's theories here, though impressive, are not conclusive. For example, they do not explain why RhettTwitter, despite full access to the CCRU's work and now moreover to its members, produced less informed work than WarwickTwitter. It is an inescapable reality that the CCRU consorted more directly with the lemurs than RhettTwitter, which was more concerned with debates about their front organizations (specifically, several competing enterprises of accelerationism). To justify this, Sang must rely heavily on WarwickTwitter's access to Aleister Crowley's home as a divinatory tool, because theories attributing credit to the superior divinatory abilities of the original CCRU members cannot be justified if those members were also present in RhettTwitter. I cannot say I am thoroughly convinced by Sang on this topic, given that Crowley's insights mostly took the form of cruel and unrecognized jokes on him, whereas the lemurs were apparently kinder to the CCRU. Additional research is necessary.

However, my main gripe with Sang is with the politics he projects onto CaveTwitter. Describing its breakup, he attributes a great deal of blame to communism, claiming the CCRU clones from the doomed timeline were ultimately doomed by their communist propinquities. Using sketchy historical evidence, he claims that Jehu, Edmund Bergur, and Gregory Marx became left communists, that Nix became an anarchist, and Amy Ireland founded the predecessor to left/accelerationism. While he stresses that not all paradox clones were so taken in by leftism—noting that Matt Colcolhon maintained his neoreactionary outlook—he is of the stance that the cataclysm of CaveTwitter was communist sectarianism.

I personally consider this stance laughable. Despite its failings, all evidence suggests that RhettTwitter (or, for Sang, CaveTwitter) did not formulate its work in the language of political praxis. Its central tensions—between lunar, umbral, and resplendent accelerationisms—were chiefly in relation to opposing currents of feminist time sorcery in Cappadocian villages millennia before the beginning of Oecumenic time. Though other debates (such as between ghostly and zombie accelerationism) were more contemporary, those debates were so outfield from the political climate of the time that their relation to questions of political praxis was practically nil. Unless many historical documents are the products of forgery, and many others have been concealed by architectonic activity, it seems nearly impossible and certainly heretical to frame RhettTwitter's work in political terms. Were this even possible, I believe it should never be attempted because it would defang a rich flatline culture.

I do see Sang's point in some respects. Many participants in RhettTwitter are believed to have been politically radical, the consequence of their total unhinging from architectonic time being a willingness to embrace extreme political commitments in their personal lives. That Vincent Garton was so instrumental in the Chinese conquest of Australia, and that Amy Ireland burned down Big Ben, seem to confirm this. But it is patently absurd to believe these political commitments were responsible for such decoded and anti-political works of time sorcery, rather than were the mutations of radioactive exposure in the rough deltas of time. Sang's theory of CaveTwitter seems to attribute questions of politics and praxis a greater role than this.

I would propose that Dick Sang has a conflict of interest. His theory of the Cathedral—that the modern leftist political establishment taxes the resources of lemurian time sorcery—has been subject to a great deal of criticism. Many of his peers believe that such a position crudely repackages other, more developed concepts—for one, the Situationist conception of the Spectacle—into a right-wing political agenda only superficially more concerned with hyperstitional affairs. For Sang to establish that the Cathedral was instrumental in the breakup of one of the strongest historical covens of lemurian time sorcerers would lend credit to his position. That Rhett of Hades so conveniently accomplishes this for him is suspicious.

I believe, in fact, there is a Cathedral at play here. However, it is not one present in the real RhettTwitter. It is a fabricated Cathedral, imposed on the past by Sang's architectonic white magic, to extinct its powers in political disputes instead of developing lemurian time sorcery. Though I hope he does not know it, he is acting as an AOE agent in the interests of defending his personal career, through an appeal to public interests.

However, I said I would not engage in indulgence. Consequently, I will refrain from blaming Sang, and instead blame the entire current field of cybergothic anthropology. Dick Sang is right that a Cathedral exists in hyperstitional studies, even if he is participating in one of its layers. That Cathedral is instantiated in the entire focus of the field on neurotically uncovering itself over and over again. The work of Warwick and ShanghaiTwitter on the Nma and the Black Atlanteans, and the work of Rhett and (for the sake of consistency) CaveTwitter in Cappadocian lightworks, are profoundly important and should be recalled. However, obsessively reclaiming their images after everyone involved has been—to be the begrudging bearer of bad news—dead for as long as anyone can remember, is neurotic. The lemurs demand new hyperstitions, rather than the microwaved lunch of past ones. To quote The Dark Enlightenment by the man Sang calls Nick Land 2(b): "It's time to move on."