RRP: $40 (AUD)
Format: 234x156 mm (6x9 in) Paperback
Pub. Date: August 2008
Cyclonopedia is theoretical-fiction novel by Iranian philosopher and writer Reza Negarestani. Hailed by novelists, philosophers and cinematographers, Negarestani’s work is the first horror and science fiction book coming from and written on the Middle East.
'The Middle East is a sentient entity—it is alive!’ concludes renegade Iranian archaeologist Dr. Hamid Parsani, before disappearing under mysterious circumstances. The disordered notes he leaves behind testify to an increasingly deranged preoccupation with oil as the ‘lubricant’ of historical and political narratives.
A young American woman arrives in Istanbul to meet a pseudonymous online acquaintance who never arrives. Discovering a strange manuscript in her hotel room, she follows up its cryptic clues only to discover more plot-holes, and begins to wonder whether her friend was a fictional quantity all along.
Meanwhile, as the War on Terror escalates, the US is dragged into an asymmetrical engagement with occultures whose principles are ancient, obscure, and saturated in oil. It is as if war itself is feeding upon the warmachines, leveling cities into the desert, seducing the aggressors into the dark heart of oil ...
At once a horror fiction, a work of speculative theology, an atlas of demonology, a political samizdat and a philosophic grimoire, CYCLONOPEDIA is work of theory-fiction on the Middle East, where horror is restlessly heaped upon horror. Reza Negarestani bridges the appalling vistas of contemporary world politics and the War on Terror with the archaeologies of the Middle East and the natural history of the Earth itself. CYCLONOPEDIA is a middle-eastern Odyssey, populated by archeologists, jihadis, oil smugglers, Delta Force officers, heresiarchs, corpses of ancient gods and other puppets. The journey to the Underworld begins with petroleum basins and the rotting Sun, continuing along the tentacled pipelines of oil, and at last unfolding in the desert, where monotheism meets the Earth’s tarry dreams of insurrection against the Sun.
BACTERIAL ARCHEOLOGY: NETHER, SUB-SOIL AND XENO-CHEMICAL INSIDERS
Palaeopetrology: From Gog-Magog Axis to Petropunkism
Excursus I: Incomplete Burning, Pyrodemonism and Napalm-obsession
Machines Are Digging
Excursus II: Memory and ( )hole complex
Pipeline Odyssey: The Z Monologue
EXHUMATIONS: RELICS AND DIABOLIC PARTICLES
An Assyrian Relic
Excursus III: Occult, the State’s Macropolitics and Political Pollution
The Dead Mother of All Contagions
Excursus IV: Meteorological Teratology
Excursus V: Fog oil, a retrospection on obscurants
THE LEGION: WARMACHINES, PREDATORS AND PESTS
The Dust Enforcer
Excursus VI: Xeno-agents and the Assyrian Axis of Evil-against-Evil
The Thing: White War and Hypercamouflage
War as a Machine
Excursus VII: The Codex of Yatu
TELLURIAN INSURGENCIES: XERODROME, SOLAR TEMPESTS AND EARTH-SUN AXES
Telluro-magnetic Conspiracy Towards the Sun I: Solar Rattle
Excursus VIII: Barbaric Music and Vowelless Alphabets
Five Billion Years of Hell-engineering
Telluro-magnetic Conspiracy Towards the Sun II: The Core
Excursus IX: Dracolatry, Writing with the Middle East
Mesopotamian Axis of Communication
Excursus X: Az and Destrudo
UNCHARTED REGIONS: CATALYTIC SPACES
Excursus XI: Life Modeling
POLYTICS: COMPLICITY AND SCHIZOTRATEGIES FOR OPENNESS AND INSURGENCY
A Good Meal: The Schizotrategic Edge
The Z. crowd: The Infested Germ-cell of Monotheism
Excursus XII: The Heretical Holocaust
Excursus XII: Schizotrategy and the Dawn of Paranoia
‘Incomparable. Post-genre horror, apocalypse theology and the philosophy of oil, crossbred into a new and necessary codex.’ (China Miéville, author of Perdido Street Station and The Scar)
‘Reading Negarestani is like being converted to Islam by Salvador Dali.’ (Graham Harman, author of Guerrilla Metaphysics: Phenomenology and the Carpentry of Things)
‘It is rare when a mind has the courage to take our precious pre-conceptions of history, geography and language and turn them all upside down, into a living cauldron, where ideas and spaces become alive with fluidity and movement and breathe again with imagination and wonder. In this great novel by Reza Negarestani, we are taken on a journey that predates language and post dates history. It is all at once apocalyptic and a beautiful explosive birth of a wholly original perception and meditation on what exactly is this stuff we call “knowledge”.’ (E. Elias Merhige, director of Begotten and Shadow of the Vampire)
‘This brilliant and exhilarating work is a forensic journey across the surface territories of the Middle East and into the depth of its sub-terrain. The earth is produced as a living artifact, gutted and hollowed out by nomadic war tactics, the practices of extreme archaeology and the logic of petroleum extraction. Inventing a radical new language and reconceptualizing the relationship between religion, geology, and ways of war, Reza Negarestani philosophically ungrounds thus the very grounds of contemporary middle-east politics.’ (Eyal Weizman, author of Hollow Land)
‘Cyclonopedia is an extraordinary tract, an uncategorizable hybrid of philosophical fiction, heretical theology, aberrant demonology and renegade archaeology. It aligns conceptual stringency with exacting esotericism, and through its sacrilegious formulae, geopolitical epilepsy is scried as in an obsidian mirror.’ (Ray Brassier, author of Nihil Unbound: Enlightenment and Extinction)
‘Reza Negarestani’s Cyclonopedia is rich and strange, and utterly compelling. Ranging from the chthonic mysteries of petroleum to the macabre fictions of H. P. Lovecraft, and from ancient Islamic (and pre-Islamic) wisdom to the terrifying realities of postmodern asymmetrical warfare, Negarestani excavates the hidden prehistory of global culture in the 21st century.’ (Steven Shaviro, author of Doom Patrols)
‘The Cyclonopedia manuscript remains one of the few books to rigorously and honestly ask what it means to open oneself to a radically non-human life – this is a text that screams, from a living assemblage known as the Middle East, “I am legion.” Cyclonopedia also constitutes part of a new generation of writing that refuses to be called either theory or fiction; a heady mixture of philosophy, the occult, and the tentacular fringes of Iranian culture – call it “occultural studies.” To find a comparable work, one would have to look back to Von Junzt’s Unaussprechlichen Kulten, the prose poems of Olanus Wormius, or to the recent “Neophagist” commentaries on the Book of Eribon.’ (Eugene Thacker, author of Biomedia and The Global Genome)
‘From the city of Poetry and Roses in Iran comes this bloody bypass surgery on the heart of darkness.’ (David Porush, author of Soft Machine: The Cybernetic Fiction)
‘Negarestani’s Cyclonopedia meticulously plots the occult matrices of an archaic petrochemical conspiracy that has set the earth on its carbon-cycle feedback loop to Hell.’ (John Cussans, Chelsea College of Art and Design)
‘Western readers can expect their peculiarly schizoid condition to be ‘butchered open’ by this work. Read Negarestani, and pray.’ (Nick Land, author of The Thirst for Annihilation: Georges Bataille and Virulent Nihilism)
'Partly genius, partly quite mad ... To sum up: a weirdly compelling read.' (Peter Lamborn Wilson Fifth Estate Spring 2009, Vol. 44 #1)
'An American artist, Kristen Alvanson – out of curiosity or simply boredom, it's not clear – travels to Istanbul to meet a mysterious online contact. The contact never turns up. However, Kristen, as she relates in her journal, does find a manuscript called Cyclonopedia, which in turn purports to be based on the disturbing and disordered notes of an Iranian archaeologist who disappeared while researching a very eccentric theory about oil's role in history. So begins Cyclonopedia: Complicity with Anonymous Materials (published by Melbourne’s re.press), a nihilistic but fanciful tour de force of meta-fiction. Kristen, in addition to being a character, is the creator of the book's magnificent cover; she is credited on the title page beneath Reza Negarestani, who is the book’s author – and also the author of the manuscript Kristen finds. In this welter of attributions, of course, it becomes doubtful whether Negarestani really wrote the book at all, but whoever the author is, he or she has a profound knowledge of, or a profound imagination about, Middle Eastern archaeology and Islamic mythology, to say nothing of contemporary petropolitics.
Apocalyptic visions and solar catastrophes have been making their way into my own work, so Cyclonopedia feels especially resonant to me, but its urgency isn't just personal. The text strips away its own layers to reach a bedrock of premonotheistic symbols and tropes subverting, as it goes, common understandings of “East” and “West” and the relation of these ideas to each other. Creating its own lexis via a Deleuzian philosophical constructivism, building a quasi-scientific machine with madly beautiful illustrations, Cyclonopedia is marked by a peculiar theoretical style. It discovers hidden paths to a kind of chthonic knowledge; from its speculative abyss issues a horrific “philosophy of oil.” Gazing into this confounding complexity of groundless grounds thrilled my new awareness.'
Pamela Rosenkranz, Artforum International: Best of 2009 (December, 2009)
About the Author
Reza Negarestani is an Iranian philosopher and writer who lives and works in the Middle East. Negarestani’s preoccupations and matrix of socio-historical emergence have given him a unique perspective on the Middle East. His writings have gained wide recognition and gathered a cult following.