Speculative Non-Buddhism

ruins of the buddhist real

This Machine Kills X-Buddhists

Posted by Glenn Wallis on December 13, 2013

cruel-theory-bThis machine kills x-buddhists.

Buy it. read it. use it.

From a recent interview:

Interviewer: Certain books strike me more as machines than books. I feel that certain books are not so much texts to be read with pleasure and satisfaction as they are weapons to be brandished.

Us, the authors: We feel the same way about our book. What matters is whether it works, and how it works, and who it works for. It’s a machine, too. It’s not a matter of reading it over and over again. You have to do something else with it. It’s a book we enjoyed producing. We’re not writing for people who think x-buddhism is doing fine and sees its doctrines on the system’s own terms. We’re writing for people who think x-buddhism is pretty dull and sad as it burbles on about enlightenment, mindfulness, compassion, right speech, and so on.

We’re writing for unconsciousnesses that have had enough. We’re looking for allies. We need allies. And we think these allies are already out there, that they’ve gone ahead without us, that there are lots of people who’ve had enough and are thinking, feeling, and working in similar directions: it’s not a question of fashion but of a deeper “spirit of the age” informing converging projects in a wide range of fields. In the arts, for instance, music, poetry. In psychology, if that wretched field is still salvageable. Or what Tutteji Wachtmeister’s doing: our method’s not the same, but we seem to meet him on all sorts of points that seem basic, on paths he’s already mapped out.

And then it’s true we’ve read a lot. But as the fancy took us, rather randomly. What we’re after certainly isn’t any return to “the Buddha” or a return to some “original teaching.” What we look for in a book is the way it transmits something that resists coding: flows, revolutionary active lines of flight, lines of absolute decoding rather than any current intellectual culture. Even in books there are oedipal structures, oedipal codes and strictures that are all the more insidious for being nonfigurative.

Good critical writing on x-buddhism is a gift. It is rare, if non-existent, among the x-buddhists themselves. What such writing requires are intensities, flows, machine-books, tool-books, schizo-books. All we critics of x-buddhism have as examples are Dada-destroyer Tutteji and a few others.The book is intended as a model–and a machinic tool–for getting some real work done.

We’re considering a very simple problem, like Burroughs with drugs: can you harness the power of drugs without them taking over, without turning into a dazed zombie?  It’s the same with Buddhism.  We make distinctions between non-buddhism  and the x-buddhists produced in Zen centers and meditation retreats: it’s almost the same thing in reverse.  The x-buddhists have failed, given up, become zombies.  But maybe there’s a Buddhist process, of decoding and deterritorializing, which only a non-buddhist approach can stop from turning into the production of more capitalist zombies.

People may criticize our book for being too difficult, but we’re sure such criticism will come from committed x-buddhists themselves. They tend, anyway, to be lazy and phobic when it comes to thinking. If that were not the case, would they let x-buddhism do their thinking for them? Is it our fault that Pepper, Steingass, Wallis, Idzik, Miller, Tutte, and Jennings know more about “the Dharma” than x-buddhists and all their senseis, roshis, tulkus, mindfulness instructors, and assorted big bubbas combined?*

To be continued.

Review by John L. Murphy at The Journal of Buddhist Ethics

Cruel Theory | Sublime Practice: Toward a Revaluation of Buddhism

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Amazon Germany


  • Hypno-translation of Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, Negotiations, 22-23.
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