The solar system had its origin in a gigantic star into which a smaller, dead, waterlogged star fell

An "astronomy of the invisible."

Hans Hörbiger's Welteislehre (World Ice Theory), known previously as Glazial-Kosmogonie (Glacial Cosmogony) before he felt the need to further Germanize it, is an extravagant, crystal bleak, obstinately unfounded, and gorgeous theory.  In short, the basic substance of the solar system is ice: ice moons and ice plants move through global ether made of... ice.  It's the frosty, scraping motion of winter rendered infinite.  No big bang, just the wet thwup of a sodden dead star smacking into a immense burning sun, sizzled vapor spray, splattering out into empty space.  Radially drifting slow, freezing into elementary matter.

It is, of course, a theory with no ground, a thought cut loose and resutured to the apparatus of looking-like-science, even as it purports to be a kosmotechnische Weltanschauung (a cosmotechnical world view).

And then there's its nasty introduction to the ranks of melancholic Nazi pseudo-science.  It was employed both as a counter to the "Jewish" science (of things such as experimental verifiability, observable phenomena, and cosmologies not based entirely on a combination of rad dreams you happen to have and the fact that indeed the moon does look a bit icy at times) and as a cosmically grounded racial climatology.

Some followers even attended astronomical meetings to heckle, shouting, "Out with astronomical orthodoxy! Give us Hörbiger!"

 "Our Nordic ancestors grew strong in ice and snow; belief in the Cosmic Ice is consequently the natural heritage of Nordic Man."

This held aside for a moment.  (Though it is never truly aside, let alone gone or mediated, it can only be aside for a brief, slippery moment because the linkage between its order of worlds and the attempted ordering of this world in accordance with Nazi anthropological thought is not accidental or surpassable.  critical negativity aside, it's there, not-disavowable.  Elsewhere I want to think about the fundamental melancholy of the aesthetic that underpins much of far-right and Aryan-supremacist iconography and cosmology, black suns to gloom ice ether, lost unwinnable battles repeated hysterically, the lostness of a grounding ethnic lineage built from scratch and misreadings that knows itself damn well to be as such.)  For this now, I'm struck by the shape of this thought, as if it could be told otherwise, closer to this:

Hörbiger's whole enterprise is a fact of speculative thinking reaching its peak, beginning from a near lyric moment of potential misprision - weird, I just realized that the moon looks like a bunch of ice stacked together - that unfolds, dizzying itself like those spinning actors out and out.  Rather than saying yes, many things look like ice when the sunlight hits them correctly, for example, that car windshield which I know not to be eternal, order-founding ice, the cosmological is built teetering, toppling out, telling science to fuck off while clinging to its hems, all to bind the universe as such to a solitary judgment.  Like the pendulum of which Hörbiger dreamt, growing longer and longer until it broke, the world ice theory lengthens from a fulcrum untethered and stretching out an instance of total intentionality (all must be objectively as it seemed to me at that moment), produces an entire system, and consequently threatens such a first thought, such a cosmopolitics, such a nostalgia, such a fading illumination.

How does it threaten it?  (Mid-way note: what follows borrows the same principle/remains tentatively faithful to Hörbiger's reasoning, that's to say: stretch the pendulum, throw the fragments out to see what else they gather, and circulate amongst the declining returns of such thinking, in its breakdowns and autophagy.)

 Halted, glacial, gloomy, and falsely eternal as it is, the system undoes its apparent stasis - be ever faithful to the originary ice! - on its own terms: as an instance of the accelerating motion of thought itself, as a fantasmatic cosmopolitics, and as an acceleration which cannot be contained by the trappings of eternality.  The gap between a frozen thought and a thought to which clings the aura of frozenness, with fallout on all sides.  In this system, matter (the matter we access and see, of this solar system, of what can be tarried to our experience) takes form in accordance with the action of condensation and freezing.  The ground of our experience is the crystallization of a flung chunk of that "first" wet star, some necrological foundation granule around which vapor can recondense, harden, and become the Earth, become moon, become unnamed chunks.

Two things from this.  First, the binding is temporary - it always is - and dependent  on the coldness as a negative value: the basic condition for this genesis of what knowably exists is passage through what it is not and what threatens it.  The cold is not flaming gas or the friction of impact, and this not alone gives shape to the scattered material.  And what is it giving shape to?  Not the genesis of all form out of what could be, but this particular arrangement, this solar system.  There lies the second point: this is not an origin story of the universe.  The universe prefigures, predates, and exists independently of our ice-worlds.  Stars burn and die, stones melt into liquid and cool again.  And the rules still apply here, in this corner of it, even as the order here is exceptional, founded through a confrontation with the prime figure - a gigantic star - of that other order.  The dominance of ice, as organizational and generational principle, of hardening into shapes solid enough to stand and think on, comes about through the collision with the exorbitant, consumptive, light-producing center of simultaneous expenditure and transfer.  (And we then ask: what happened to that other star, the one slammed with the wet dead sponge?  Does it keep burning a little quieter now, its heat irrevocably dimmed by the vaporization, by the act that made all this possible?  Was it fully consumed and splattered in that instant, now part of the rain of ice across the dark?  Or, hardest to take on, did it matter not a whit?  Its scale so large, equivalent to spitting in the desert, a soft hiss and nothing is changed?  Except for Hörbiger, who could see in that petty drool's evaporation the possibility of crystal spheres, dark masses racing toward other collisions...)

The half-step to the politics of this, and the allure to the Nazis, is an easy one, and it has little to do with the simple equation of Nordic = ice, even as such an commensurability remains the initial operation of linkage.  It's more than just the sense that it's convenient to have the meterological standards of your chosen lineage reflected in the solar system more broadly.  Instead, it's in the sense both of voluntary decision and interruption that rests on the back of a eternalizing realism which it nevertheless dismantles. That's to say: beyond the lingering rhetorical play of eternal ice and thousand year Reichs, a fascist cosmology, or one accessible to use by Nazis, requires an unprecedented event (the dead star collision) to which we have to adhere and work to protect, all the more so because it is opposed to both general opinion founded on principles of "proof" and observation and, moreover, because it is opposed to the general laws of the universe, which constantly threaten ice.  The theory, and the cosmos it describes, backs itself willfully into a corner, hackles up, and declares itself under siege.  As Hörbiger told Willi Ley, "Either you believe in me and learn, or you will be treated as the enemy."

Moreover, in spite of the founding of a total correlation (people from "pure" icy lands = "pure" icy solar system, the step toward purification is evident),  the event that makes it come into being is entirely opposed: it is a violent, annihilating confrontation that results not in the arid cold shards of Northern sentiment, but a warm, wet spray of filth that can only take pure ice shape because it is not pure, because there are particles around which the water can form.  (Or worse, for the Nazis, god forbid that water picked up some other dirt floating around: what if the ice moons and ice planets aren't even direct, clean descendents of that first dead star!)  At once the sense that this white ice is the rule of the cosmos and that it must be asserted as such because it very clearly isn't.  Born of the possibility of its own undoing, much like the suspension of law in the rhetorical name of the restoration of order, the exceptional ice gathers its forces to reconvene a first moment dark to it, when ice as dominant principle was not there.  It aims to produce new, icier dead stars, far colder than that damp becoming, so that the confrontation with the "central" star, with what embodies for us the exorbitancy of the universe and the threat to white eternality, wouldn't survive.  The dead white sun returns home harder, and the outcome is the snuffing out of light and heat itself.

Of course, such a confrontation, doomed to fail, dimly aware of such as it speeds headlong toward the apathy of total negation, is only local.  To end, a further lengthening of the pendulum, toward general law of entropic distribution from this act of disenlightenment to the halt of life and motion itself, the heat death of the universe.  (Or, at least, the approach towards heat death through cold death: first, the unsustainability of life, then the impossibility of motion itself, the grinding to a halt of the entire enterprise.)

Two options.

The flourishing and buttressing of ice worlds into bridged, halted shapes, a dead city of the solar system, an extension of its logic - because we were ahead of the game, we know existence from ice - out to other parts of the universe.  Tenuous, spider-silk think linkages before too weak to hold bind harder, connective glacial tissue bound closer.  The storms of icy ether firm up, become blocks, new planets.  Negative space itself becomes whitely solid, oceans of milky nothing with no room for movement.  The general thermodynamic rules still apply, as they have, and so the principle that brings life to an end, the promise of extinction, becomes the guarantor of the extension of this other lifeless way of being.  The reign of ice spreads wider.  The frozen decay that that sustains, on which we walk, that spins beneath us, is not a hold out against what may come but a precursive image, the eye of the permafrost ice storm.

Unless it's all inverted.  Taking on Hörbiger's speculative gesture, as it inverts known laws in order to occasion that moment of the pendulum's snap and float off, deserves an imagined, impossible, thermodynamics in reverse, the extropic swelling of heat.  As if cold was a positive value, leeched away to nodes of thermal energy.

Starving, consumptive anti-suns that suck the cold right out of it all.

And everything will melt.  All the shapes on which our knowing seemed possible, which we thought formed in our judgment, we thought guaranteed by warmth and light, finds itself betrayed.  Not a warm fire to which we cling, but a leech of our potential coldness and coherency, the constant threat.  Following out to a cosmological level what I wrote about Frankenstein and the threat of warmth,  it's the opening all out to non-form, not just isolation and singularity.  Not the colonization of anti-social zones of potential secession or misanthropic retreat.  No, it's back to vapors one and all, across the board flung and drawn.  Being becomes a fogged and inconstant hothouse. Those ancestral bacteria buried deep in the ice are warmed, by the theft of cold, and woken.  They come to be, teeming, at the very moment that there is no ground to stand on, as the globe ends, just a trailing trail of steam.  The wet, hot, panting breath of unformed life as the solar system falls apart.  Existence's last collapse, the slow hissing gasp of all that is solid melting into fuming slush.


Benladen said...

I sort of imagine you avoided watching Lady Gaga's new video for Alejandro when it came out yesterday, but uh...

just in the first 30 or so seconds you get fascist bodies, snowy funerals, radically vacant symbolism, and some sort of throwback nontechnological cyberpunk.

I'm maybe wondering about that, "near lyric moment of potential misprision," and when it works the opposite way - when instead of unfolding into a system, it forces itself into an absolute particularity (I guess this is maybe what's meant by overdetermining? I always feel uncomfortable with the weight of that word). I think this is maybe something like the "Illuminati Pyramid," where whenever a triangle can be identified in a representation, the spectre of an endlessly-referenced but never-quite-explained conspiracy is felt.

Or maybe thats not the opposite, but just on a different scale. Less a folding out vs folding in, than a cancerous replication, that first misprision mutating and overtaking whatever organism had the poor luck to be its host. But perhaps that renders it apolitical. And then, maybe I'm just picking through the particles of dirt and claiming its the ice.

Oh, but then also, how does this gel with the "back to the earth," Tolstoyan grain-scything peasant aesthetic? Certainly if your fields are just giant blocks of reconstituted ice, the anti-technological vitalism loses a bit of its oomph.

Jannon said...

or maybe hörbiger just got really high on laudanum while watching méliès' trip to the moon over and over and over.

anyway, I think you can guess how much I love this post.

Jannon said...

or actually, I guess I was misremembering scenes from conquest of the pole—whoops.

ECW said...

Jannon: I think a collective return on all of our parts to those films is long overdue (though sounds like you're there already). I think a similar collective return to laudanum is equally in order.

ECW said...


you guessed right, not up on my Gagaisme. Bit beyond my purview, but as with other things I've been prodded into looking at, it's pretty batty and compelling. We also need to stop letting pop video directors read Caillois essays.

Weightiness of word aside, I quite like your take on overdetermination. Normally, I would use it to describe the overlaying of that system onto a singularity, a certain stress of exteriority on a decision/point/instance/conjuncture. However, you're gesturing to another side of it worth guarding: it isn't a singularity (that would have its own essential interiority) pressed on from the outside - rather, it is the intrusion into that interior of what are supposed to remain external conditions. It is the parasitic overtaking of the internal coherency and supposed independence of an instance. A starving, creeping kudzu of history...

And it distinctly doesn't gel with peasantism, indeed. That's the rather uncanny thing about fascist aesthetics: a non-unification, but temporary alignment or binding, of the totally and utterly opposed, under the impossible promise of a unification that itself is predicated on the erasure of difference, a phantom commonality never there other than in name. Who can be surprised that a black sun had to shine?