Pre-Writing, Non-Writing, and The End of Writing
Why we are not "writers"
“Any conception of culture that would designate the propensity to write as an indicator of a culture’s wealth and complexity should be discarded,” writes Eric A. Havelock. “A culture can rely entirely on some kind of spoken communication and nevertheless be a culture with all that it entails.”1
-Alain de Benoist, Runes and the Origins of Writing.
The transition from orality to literacy is a controversial subject, as it brings up the notion that writing was rather an invention to make sense of the illiterate. Alain de Benoist writes that Fuþark, the oldest form of the runic alphabet, was not only a simplistic writing system, but each runic letter also possesses traits of magic and play, related to an illiterate European culture. “The importance of oral tradition must be kept in mind when one delves into writing,” De Benoist writes.2
Walter J. Ong, a Jesuit priest, also championed the idea that orality transitioned to literacy in human history. The act of “writing” is complicated, as it is explained to be both a cognitive and social activity involving neuropsychological and physical processes. In early human history, the logogram writing system used original written characters to represent some ideal of truth to the writer and reader. If it looks like a dog, then the character means “a dog.” Runes follow a similar logogram logic.
According to evolutionary psychology, writing is a technology that helped invent the cultural interest in individualism because it demands an inward focus on the self. As writing became associated with technology, this led to an incredible revelation of world history into the realm of dialectic materialism. Humans got out of the audio phase and into the visual, which required some level of intense learning and intellectualism. In an information age of overabundance, Ong declared a new “secondary orality” phase of illiterate people existing in a society of literate elites, who have a new type of power knowledge (such as knowing certain inside secrets) over the masses. Brazillian philosopher Vilém Flusser would later contemplate these political linguistic issues in his books, “Into the Universe of Technical Images,” (1985) and “Does Writing Have a Future?” (1987). The visual and technological become more important than complex or sophisticated ideas, as a tiny intelligentsia monopolizes writing to fulfill its desires against everyone else.
De Benoist makes a counter-argument that pre-writing systems had power because it is steeped in tradition. Runes are unique cultural secrets of how European peoples developed their personality. Rather than reducing writing as a universal technological advancement, pre-writing is a manifestation of thought and verbal expression to one’s people. To practice memory and wisdom is to act without writing. Controversial as that sounds, many pagan and pre-history figures thought of writing as reference, and not as truth. Truth could only be accomplished through action, and thus in an incredibly reactionary fashion, oration was the only skill needed for a politician, lecturer, performer, artist, and intellect.
Ironically, I am “writing” this article to contemplate these thoughts. I could have recorded myself, shared an audio recording, and improvised what I know about writing. Writing is superior because it makes oration obsolete, following the progression of technology. Language must be coherent and understood by a reader (or listener if it’s audio). Many languages around the world go against the rules of English and can drop crucial syntaxes, like verbs and consonants, and let the cultural reader assume what is being said without any context. English is the lingua franca because it is the most precise language in the world we know. Non-English languages obstruct and ignore the possible meanings of what could be said, and can’t allow what could be thought of.
French philosopher François Laruelle has been developing a school of thought called “non-philosophy” since the 1980s. The point of non-philosophy is to develop a transcendental, almost religious, outlook on philosophy, rid of any ideology or bias. The “prior decision,” that Laruelle argues, blinds the philosopher and his understanding. The individual splits himself from everything else, and this causes problems trying to pursue real wisdom. The decisional structure can only be grasped outside of philosophy’s intentions, hence it becomes “non-philosophy.
This liberal idea that academia has become “anti-anthropocentric,” or against “human supremacy” is the latest fad after self-guilt politics. The popularity of “object-oriented ontology” has less to do with object-oriented programming, and more to do with the bastardization of Martin Heidegger and its attempt to celebrate “non-humankind.” Philosopher Timothy Morton believes that deep ecology has became “dark ecology” to celebrate non-living objects, and the radical egalitarianism and social justice influences state that we now must pursue “solidarity with non-humankind.” This attempt to devalue humanity is insidious like the hatred for European descented people.
It’s no surprise that Laruelle has sympathy with Christianity, and Christianity is about transcendence and excessive self-guilt in its ideology. He wrote about it in his work, “Clandestine Theology: A Non-Philosopher's Confession of Faith.” Transhumanism ultimately hates humanity because it is limited by nature, and Christianity allows transhumanism to go beyond the flaws of animal existence. This could all be examined as an outgrowth of liberalism.
Laruelle not only aplpied the “non” label to philosophy, but as well to “non-Marxism.” Laruelle’s opponent, Alain Badiou, is expressed in his work, “Anti-Badiou: On the Introduction of Maoism into Philosophy.” Badiou is a materialist, against transcendental modes of thinking, and wants a resurrected cultural “communism” for humanity. Laruelle argues that a true “postmodern” way of thinking must be against sincere forms of ideologies, and advocate the notion of “thinking about thinking.” Badiou is a mathematician and an analytical philosopher, and these two things must mean “modernity.” As Laruelle puts it, “Mathematicism is the condition of communism, with the authoritarian Platonist model finding a new lease of life in Maoism.”3 Therefore, an investigation into the “non” is what Badiou lacks, and this makes him a possible agent for Mao Zedong’s genocidal regime. Marxism is evil and must be understood in an anti-anthropocentric framework. We can see a bias already being pursued against anti-capitalism and socialism.
We also have to consider what is “non-writing.” We now have to see writing as “a radical simplification of transcendence.”4 Laruelle wants the writer to stop thinking about the self, or the process of writing, in action and before it starts. Non-writing would relate to the work of Havelock and Ong, where ironically, the matter is substance, and everything is in the eyes of materialism, justify the work of Badiou over Laruelle. Then what does Laruelle want out of non-writing if he’s against communism? We have to understand Alain de Benoist’s role as a “Nouvelle Droite” ideologue, and his defense to save French people against liberalism.
De Benoist and Laruelle would likely be considered “right-wing” in the same category. While Laruelle would pass a religious right or center-left conservative, De Benoist is outright for an anti-liberal “multipolarity” world against the American global hegemony. De Benoist is also a pagan and would likely have no sympathy for Laruelle’s love for Christianity. The thesis goes back to the meaning behind the runes and of pre-writing; the importance of tradition and how tradition dictates language. Non-writing must succumb to tradition, not anti-humanism, as its operating principle. When we have an authentic tradition, the composition of the text is meaningful to our reality.
“Writing” has since become an ideological stance in liberal democratic capitalism. One announces “I am a writer” not only as a profession but as if the person is also handicapped. The same could be said about the self-identification and subculture of being an “artist.” Being an “amateur” implies there can only be one source of profitable income in the systematic reality of capitalism. If someone has to explain their identity to someone, they might say “I am a writer” first as that profitable profession. The ambiguity and vagueness of “I am an artist” can also imply that the person is actually a writer using a new ideological stance. Hence some will say they are also a facetious “text artist,” with no understanding between what is “text” and what is an “artist.”
Kent Peterson has created an original and novel blog of non-writing. On his Substack, he does not write in the digital realm, but rather, takes pictures of his writings. He “writes” (or types) on an old manual typewriter; black ink on white paper. Peterson does not type a single word on the computer. He takes a digital picture of his daily typewritten page and uploads it as a blog post. Peterson marks the page with a date and stamps his branded icons on it, realzing the typewritten page is itself an aesthetic art piece.
I can’t do a digital word search in the picture (unless I have a program to extract text from an image). The digital object is a .png file, not a line of computer text. Peterson is a non-writer, as he follows the Vilém Flusser prophecy of visual images as the novel over the textual. Peterson could sell the physical page as an original art piece, demystifying himself as a “writer” and transforming himself as an “artist.” We think about the power of runestones and what runes mean to divinity and order.
With this clever novelty that Peterson has made, we must contemplate if this is the end of writing. It’s not a “post” period of writing, because we have entered a digital reality of Instagram images and manufactured stages. If one calls themself a “writer,” they are unsure what it means in an age of second orality. Everyone speaks English, and everyone can write basic commands and constructs in English. The English language is inflated, and if one pretentiously assumes they are a “writer,” they might as well say they are a “breather” and enjoy breathing air. One must be using the term “writer” as an ideological stance of modernity, wishing to belong to an egalitarian canon of similar ideologues who have power knowledge, but no one cares about literacy or the political consequences of their in-group. This is what Laruelle points out against Badiou, and Laruelle is insistent there is a Christian transcendence within the technological acceleration.
Materialism is the root of both Marxism and the orality evolution. Materialism implies there is no human-centric tradition, and everything is constructed by objects around us. It explains the popularity of object-oriented ontology and object-oriented programming in the arts. It’s a Generation X paradigm of philosophy, where Western individuals feel they are insignificant to the acceleration of technology. Malthusian social order is enforced, and “degrowth” is policy. Degrowth also entails the destruction of European people and the displacement of whatever is “white” worldwide. Transhumanism is the goal, and it is rooted in a Christian spirit of transcendence.
If everyone is illiterate, the so-called literate can safeguard what power knowledge was left from the old world, and make sure the illiterate never learn about theories of anti-liberalism. The end of writing has begun because the masses rely on technical images, logograms, memes, and graphics for communication, which also implies that these mediums cannot express any higher sophisticated thought because of their limitations to emotions and supposed egalitarian ideology. One is pretentious if one calls oneself a “writer” because they are not writing anymore; they are non-writing.
Writing was a phase of technology. To bring it back assumes stagnation and Ludditism. Every possible novel was written, and nothing new is to come for the artist or the writer who is bored with the English language. Being an “artist” can only subscribe to the ideology of liberal autonomy, existing as a liberal, and using expression to represent the values of being a “free” American. Non-writing realizes this outcome. However, pre-writing gives us insight into why we started inscribing and composing symbols in the first place.
Pre-writing mind maps, outlines, and symbolizes what we want to say. A short aphorism by François de La Rochefoucauld or Nicolás Gómez Dávila can persuade us to do greater things. It feels like both pre-writing and non-writing accomplish the same thing, but it is pre-writing that allows us to understand the self, and find truth in being. Non-writing relies on an elitist perspective of Hegelian progression, all while relating to the runes (Platonist authoritarianism), and yet ironically escaping human limitation. Clarity in the inscription is powerful, yet what is more powerful is the connection to tradition and the greater purpose of doing good for humanity. Rather than reference, sophistication and complexity are enriching like minimalism, because they can describe more than images. Tradition contains sophistication and complexity and never dumbs itself down for mediocrity.
Alain de Benoist was right to point out that the origins of writing trace back to the simplicity of runes. It’s not that we should be reactionary and go back in time and incorporate runes into the future of writing. We have to understand object-orientated programming and its relation to the arts and language. Objects, like runes, have a block-coding nature of boxes and arrows, where one rune is shaped by the other, and so on in a web of applications. Objects can have power over us in this manner, and question our ontology. When we put ourselves first, the objects no longer have power. We have power over the objects, as we are the programmers of the runes. Runes represent this ancient pagan history and the birth of European civilization. To forget about this past could only lead to destruction. At stake is the history of language, the power of tradition, and the origins of art itself.
We are no longer “writers” because what we compose is not an occupation or activity. Programming requires a level of skill that has replaced the common language and demands an articulate understanding of a writing system. When egalitarianism has made the second orality possible, the literate elite becomes programmers, not writers. Those who whim on thoughts rely on speaking and confuse this as being a “writer.” Writing has become a type of orality, and it is encouraged with the help of AI and technological shortcuts, like images. The crazed obsession of a “graphic novel” is the second orality and the end of writing. If intellectuals are to save grace, the intellectuals have to become object-oriented programmers.
We have to focus on the origins of writing and the nature of who we are. Let us not get distracted in the age of glittering images that propel us into stupidity. De Benoist provides “the right of difference” over the shallow equality against humanity.
Eric A. Havelock, Aux origines de la civilisation écrite en Occident, François Maspéro, Paris 1981, p. 12.
Alain de Benoist, Runes and the Origins of Writing, Artkos Media, 2018 English edition, pg. 3.
François Laruelle, Anti-Badiou: On the Introduction of Maoism into Philosophy, Bloomsbury Academic, 2013, pg. viii.
ibid., pg. 6