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/

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