Book Review: Templexity by Nick Land

Book cover - Templexity by Nick Land

This will be a short review because Templexity is a short book, just released yesterday.

If you’re reading this blog, you’re probably already familiar with Nick Land’s recent writing. Templexity is rather different from his blogging work: it’s what mainstream literary and film criticism would read like if the American mainstream wasn’t hopelessly mired in the Brezhnev era of political correctness.

The Foreward doesn’t really sell the book, but it picked up for me as the professor began using the movie Looper as a jumping off point to write about contemporary politics, economics, cyberpunk, and older science fiction.

“You should go to China,” Joe is told by his criminal overseer , Abe. “I’m going to France,” Joe insists stubbornly. Abe responds with what – for us – is the most critical line in the movie: “I’m from the future. You should go to China.” With these words, Looper makes Sino-Futurism its topic. The hyper -modern China Event overspills the existing order of time.

Visually, what’s interesting about Looper is that the American landscape is completely dilapidated. Ordinary people who are fortunate drive rusted-out cars. Gangsters ride hover-cycles imported from China. That is to say, imported from the future. As a literary device, Land describes the city as futuristic, a clustering of future-time events, whereas what’s outside is kept relatively unchanging, in the past.

A ‘city of the future’ is Gibsonian in precisely this sense. That is nothing new, nor could it be. It has always leaked back, in coincidence with modernity. Tomorrow is a social magnet, as has been known for some considerable time, at first merely reflectively, but ever increasingly as a techno-responsive object.

Civilization is an accelerating process, not a steady state. As its name suggests, it is channeled primarily through cities (which explode). The incandescent intensity of a hypergrowth-dominated urban future consumes our historical horizon , and an exceptionally impressive perspective on this developing spectacle is to be found in 21st century Shanghai – a fact Hollywood has no real choice but to relay.

Reading this short tract, it reminded me of the time in my life when I could buy an American magazine and be impressed by what was written there. I used to be able to read American magazines and newspapers and feel like I was gleaning meaningful acculturation from it. I no longer feel that way when I read most of what Americans publish.

But I felt that way again when I read this one. From the book:

“What happened to America?” is the Cyberpunk question par excellence.

Indeed. The reason why this is readable, and most of what you can get in Anglo-America isn’t anymore, is perhaps because of this dilemma. America finds itself trapped in a paradox of time, of negative interest, fading slowly backwards.