Spinal Catastrophism – Notebook Exegesis #1 (henceforth S.C.N.E)


In March 2020, I flew from Atlanta to New York. I returned in time for the COVID-19 lockdown. The following week I spent in isolation with a single book — Spinal Catastrophism by Thomas Moynihan — a speculative philosophical fiction that traces the history of the world through geology, embodiment, and trauma.

A friend just emailed me and said he had read this book and enjoyed it. I told him I would type my notes, and maybe something interesting would arise. In the spirit of sharing and dialogue, here is the first installment of my S.C.N.E.


The first page of my notebook contains some notes and what looks like sigils and wordplay with the word telomerase and lion. Sigils are statements turned into symbols that people use for self-induction practices. Telomerase is the ends of chromosomes, and people think they are related to aging. I am trying to understand why the word lion is there. I also wrote my name. I am grateful I did not write the name of crushes or little hearts — although that may come.

On the first page, I wrote words: and thoughts about these words, genealogy, and hypergenealogy. Presumably, this book is a work of hypergenealogy. It is beyond genealogy — a genealogy of structures without origin. In geology, we have Orogeny — perhaps this is the word to use. Maybe I will use it for my future work of theory fiction.

What is Genealogy?

The genealogy shows “causes masquerading as reason.” So the book begins. Logic shows the relation between things; genealogy shows the origin of things. If logic is Genesis, genealogy is Numbers.

The If, then, nature of my last sentence makes the sentence a condition — a logical statement. The genealogy of this sentence starts in the Tanach, the Hebrew bible, which contains the books of Genesis and Numbers. The genealogy of the Tanach includes different middle eastern mythologies, histories, and ideologies.

“Causes masquerading as reason” is a quotation from an article by Robert Brandom. One of my favorite essays is a book review by Ray Brassier of Brandom’s A Spirit of Trust — which I own but have not read. In this essay, Brassier talks about the phenomenology of suspicion — a concept from the french philosopher Paul Ricoeur.

In modern times we have philosophies that interpret symptoms rather than analyze facts. Our philosophies are Freud (psychology), Marx (socialism), and Nietzche (power). We interpret dreams, uncover systemic inequality, and engage in a transvaluation of values. These activities are subjective and interpersonal. Genealogy is an uncovering; it is detective work. How do we understand beyond observation and data collection?

Parade and Masquerades

Rhinebeck Sinterklass https://i.ytimg.com/vi/V-benq8Htis/maxresdefault.jpg

Hypergenealogy — a neologism — is “tectonics parading as reason.” What is a masquerade versus a parade? In a masquerade, the social order is transformed or dissolved. We all wear different personas and act out of character during a masquerade ball.

When I think of a parade, I think of a military parade. It is the opposite of a masquerade. Both end in — ade, which denotes an action—tectonics and causes act.

A parade is about the reification of a mask. We solidify our new social order created in the mascarade when we have the parade. We have parades on Halloween and Christmas. In Rhinebeck, in the Hudson River Valley, there is a fantastic Sinterklaas parade. This feels part masquerade, part parade.

Recursion and Metabolism

Red Blood cell metabolism — https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/Red-blood-cell-metabolism%2C-preservation%2C-and-oxygen-Hess-Solheim/36482f649b248465824c966c866e160a1596297b

Techtonics is structure. Sometimes there is no reason. There is just structure.

Water adheres to the side of the straw in capillary action not because of choice but because of structure. Structure is destiny

Is anything applied to itself recursive? Genealogy applied to itself is recursive. In computer science, we use our products and call this dogfooding. We eat our own food.

When is a practice recursive or metabolic? Are we powering the system or regulating the system? This is a Marxist question. It is also a regenerative economics question. I am a Levite, a custodian of the temple, the original trash collector. My job is to regulate the resources to be recursive or metabolic. Where does the waste go? Must there always be waste?

Hypergenealogy and Genealogical machines

When genealogy is generative, it always “generates more claims.” A claim to what? To authority? To truth. What is a claim? Claim is a legal word. Claims are about law. When paternity is uncovered, the child has a claim to the father.

Laws are generative. I can create a motor according to the laws of physics; I can make a computer program according to the laws of boolean logic. Genealogy is revealing; it creates through uncovering and establishes by identifying new vectors of connections.

Laws create one methodology, one heir. Genealogical machines generate multiple origins. There are more claims to authenticity. Who becomes the rightful heir?

How are ideas, objects, methods, and philosophies generated? They are not logical or discovering. In ancient magical practices, there was something called a magic square. I think of this because the side of my notebook looks like I am making some sigil out of the words Lion and Telemeter. Sigils are imagistic.

The Escape from Logic

“Decoupling reason from proposition is the escape from logic.” In English, this means, how can we reason without statements? Can we reason with geology? Can we reason with images? Can we reason with diagrams?

Only when we have a statement can reason use logic. There is no logic without a statement, without translating an action into a statement. The proof is no longer logical but biological, historical, and generative. I am a human because of my parents and their parents. I am not human because of any propositions concerning humanness.


The Last Judgement — https://images.fineartamerica.com/images-medium-large-5/last-judgement-from-the-sistine-chapel-1538-41-fresco-michelangelo-buonarroti.jpg

What is the criterion for judgment? We have logic to judge the true from the false, the sensical from the non-sensical. Time is suspended.

Genealogy is temporal. We go back in time. Judgment is timeless; it is temporal, not eternal. Judgment does not exist for all time, only for the moment that the judgment is made. This is trauma as judgment.

Words and Beliefs

“Voluptuiousness of vocabularies is the world belief.” This reminds me of Jung — consciousness is the creation of possibilities. It could be Lacanian because Lacan is about language, and Jung is about images. World belief is not world truth. Belief is doxa, as we say in ancient greek, not episteme (knowledge). Language is always a fiction. All philosophy is theory fiction. “Superlation is beyond truth.” Hypergeneaology is beyond truth; beyond truth and laws.

What’s next

This was page 1. I don’t remember this book, and I am trying to figure out what I wrote about the text in the pages of my journal. Before reporting something, I could distill it first, but I will write and interpret it as an I go – at https://therewrite.substack.com/

Maid Maleen – M&A book club Grimm Fairy Tale Edition #3


Aya selected Maid Maleen via our patent pending bibliomantic method. At first, I kept on thinking of the plant Mullein – which is used for the lungs – associated with grief – among other things. Here is Mullein

Mullein is tall like a tower, in fact like the tower that Maid Maleen is lock in. But I am moving too fast. Let me slow down and start from the beginning.

I will say this story has 5 acts.

Act 1 – Maid Maleen is a princess is betrothed to one prince but she is in love with another and refuses to marry the man her father picks. Her father builds a tower that neither light nor sound can penetrate and puts her in there with her maid for 7 years – along with a 7 year supply of beef.

Somet things to note, we have thwarted love, we have a difficult father, we have a tower and we have beef. We also have a maid instead of a mother, and we have the prospect of marriage (perhaps representing growing up). I will note 7 years and the 7 planets and the tower card from the tarot.

Act 2- Maleen and her maid are in the tower. They have no idea if time is passing since they have no light. How horrible – what torture. The prince that Maleen loves calls to her, but she cannot hear him because the tower walls are too thick. I think of incubation or transformation, a caterpillar in the cocoon.

Act 3 – The food is running low, so Maleen decides to dig her way out of the tower with cutlery. She and her maid take turns digging and they bore a hole through the tower. They could have escaped all along! We have the power to set ourselves free. When they look outside, they realize that the kingdom has been destroyed. They would have died in that tower. You must make decisions for yourself; you cannot trust blindly – especially if you are locked in a tower. Also – the power tools – a knife. They wander through the countryside – starving and eating nettle.

I love nettle, it is great when you are mineral deficient. I am drinking nettle right now. They are probably mineral deficient now that they are not on their heavy meat diet!

How To Make Nettle Tea: Tips For Harvesting & Brewing - Sencha Tea Bar

So they are destitute and wandering the countryside, finally, they come to the kingdom of Maid Maleen’s first beloved. The cook takes them on as scullery maids and the denouement begins.

Act 4 – In the new kingdom the prince’s father has betrothed the prince to a woman as ugly as she is wicked (so very).

Again we have importance of beauty/looks and the equation between beauty and goodness. We also fathers who really do poor jobs selecting a mate for their children. Maybe this is about how to make decisions. Aya has talked a lot about trust in these stories and proof and related to this is decisionmaking. Who is making good decisions? Not many people? It is interesting. When things do seem to work out, no decisions are made, they seem natural outcomes – like a walnut growing into a walnut tree. I’ll say more later.

So the betrothed is ugly and does not want to walk through town to be married to the prince so she has maid maleen pretend she is the betrothed. Maleen walks with the prince on the way to the get married and has three exchanges

  1. She sings a little song to a nettle plant – about eating it with out cooking it when she was hungry
  2. She says something to a bridge – about not being the real wife
  3. She says something to the church door – about not being the real wife

Each time the prince asks what she is saying, and maleen says, she is saying something about Maid Maleen but does not know her.

I want to note the rhyme/spell nature of these, that there ae three, and that two are about being a wife (or a real wife) about reality, and that one is about nourishment but without cooking (cooking being civilization). So perhaps there is something here about nature vs culture.

After they get married, the prince gives maleen a necklace, but still does not know she is maleen.

Act 5 – During this act the wicked and ugly princess who is supposed to marry the prince is discovered. The prince asks what she was saying to the nettle and the bridge and. thedoor and the ugly princess has. togo ask maid maleen. Finally the prince realizes that the ugly princess does not have the necklace and discovers that maleen is the true bride. The ugly princess is beheaded and maleen and the prince live happily ever after.

But there is a coda that kids sing about the tower

“Kling, klang, gloria.
Who sits within this tower?
A King’s daughter, she sits within,
A sight of her I cannot win,
The wall it will not break,
The stone cannot be pierced.
Little Hans, with your coat so gay,
Follow me, follow me, fast as you may.”

What does this coda mean?

Now I will just mention few things about this story. So we have doubling again, we have reversals (poor/rich), we have numbers (3,7), we don’t have colors, we have the sun and wind, we don’t really have animals, we have plants (nettle), we have tests, we have time passing, we have marriage, fathers, beauty, ugliness, headlessness, deceit, impersonation (or personas).

My main takeaway is that we cannot predict the future – we cannot manipulate events – we cannot control things. We can be in the moment and let life run through us -“Follow me, follow me, fast as you may.”

All Fur – M&A Grimm’s Fairy Tale Book Club


The tale we read this week was “All Fur” and I selected it via bibliomancy. The cover painting is The Bear Dance by William Holbrook Beard. I posted it on instagram(aleatoric_ops) and Aya said – “All Fur!” so I included it here. There is a sort of reverse animal personification.

Last week I was blown away by Aya’s discussion of proof in the Two Brothers. Why is proof so important ?! I think of logical proofs and Aristotle, consensus proofs and the blockchain and then proof of identity or experience in these tales. We recorded a discussion that talks a lot about proofs maybe we will post it. In All Fur there are also proofs – lets get started!

All Fur is a common sort of tale, it reminds me of a tale called Mossy Coat, and also of Cinderella. I still struggle with fairy tale logic. My tldr is that nature is harsh and has no ethics – fairy tales are the “ethics” of nature. This story is divided into two sections that I will call childhood and adulthood (or adolescence). The first half takes place in the princesss’ kingdom, and the second half takes place in another kingdom where the princess is ‘All Fur’. First I will list some points that I noticed that have a resonance with the previous story- or I just wanted to note down:

  • Color: Gold – The queen has golden hair and is beautiful and her daughter has golden hair. 
  • Marriage – When the queen dies she makes her husband the king promise to marry someone as beautiful as his wife. I am disturbed that the value of a woman is beauty – but perhaps we can read this apart from gender and think about nature, what makes a beautiful tree a beautiful flower a beautiful fruit?
  • Children – There are no twins here or brothers, instead there is a father and a daughter and the father wants to marry the daughter! Thankfully the entire kingdom is against this, but they are powerless to stop it. This reminds me of the story of Noah. Sam from Arbor Vitae connected the story of Noah (the inventor of wine), with the idea of seconds, second sons, second worlds after a flood, the second is the one that is generative (the second grape vine produces the grape when you cut back the first). However Noah also had relations with his daughters – which reminds me of this story.
  • Trials vs Storytelling

The daughter, in order to delay marrying her father, says she needs three dresses: one golden like the sun, one white like the moon and one bright like the star, and pelts from all the animals. To me this is the connection between the celestial and the  material  the earth is symbolized by the fur.  We need to over come our base desires that can drive us insane / our complexes by integrating soul spirit matter and emotion.

I also think about the 1000 arabian knights. Scheherazade delays execution by telling stories, the daughter delays execution by creating tasks/trials. I wonder if this a contrast between narrative and game logic.

  • Identity & recognition – The princess escapes in a coat she makes of the furs. Her fiancé, a king in another kingdom, finds her but thinks first she is a wild animal and then realizes she is a person – but does not recognize her. she is practically enslaved by the king and works in. the kitchen. They call her All Fur. She keeps this disguise and enhances it by spreading ash on her body. I think this. is code for forest farming, controlled burning, and the nutritive properties of ash for soil. She also has 3 gifts randomly from a fiancé: a ring, a spinning wheel and a rod that she takes with her when she escapes.
  • Repetition – right now I am into the techniques of surrealism and one of those techniques are repetition. The repetition here is in the 3 nights at the ball with the three dresses, the three dishes that All Fur make with a hidden gift from the fiance in each, and the refrain she says to the king that all she is good for is to throw shoes at. (This last part I find weird – why would she want to marry a guy that throws shoes at people). To me this is about unfolding in time . We must take our time / you can’t hurry love you just have to wait. It is very bergsonian. It also gives the princess a time to show all her gifts to express her gifts.  To every time there is a season. a season for all fur and a season for princesses. It is not always wise to have one persona.
  • Ritual objects: A wheel, a ring, and a rod. (I wonder is a rod a scepter?). Round and straight? Procreation? What is the meaning?
  • Meals/Food
  • Proof – the king can prove all fur is the fiance because she has a white finger, the only part of her not covered in ash.

As a woman these stories are disempowering. But what if we think in terms of the masculine and feminine principles the yin and Yang – the receptive must relinquish everything. This is a sacrifice. The active principle is not subject to ethics – he just acts but through the passive principle the active principle is shaped. Why is passive beautiful and active powerful : is there a dichotomy between power and beauty.