Notes towards “OUROBOROS; an Archeology of Capital”

Morgan Kernes, August 1st - Sixth Cycle.

The titular relevance of this essay is a redefinition/reapplication of the traditional Gnostic and Hermetic symbol of the Ouroboros - a snake eating its own tail. The symbology takes on new meanings when considered through associations of systemic structures rather than mythology and spirituality. Whereas the latter understands the circularity and skin-sloughing of the serpent to symbolize fertility and rebirth, the former places emphasis on the futility of its actions and the inevitability of self-consumption.

The term consumption plays a key role here, for if we presume the serpent to be locked in its position - having already swallowed too much of itself to turn back and regurgitate - it does not continue out of pleasure, rather out of necessity. The only option for survival is to continue its consumption. Furthering the problem but allowing for its continued existence.

To continue the parallel, many mythologies invoke this imagery on the world scale. They speak of a so-called World Serpent, which encompasses all within its constricting grip. It is through this set of imagery which I want to pose the consideration of capitalism and the monetary system. The rest of this essay will attempt to position how our structures put themselves in the fallacious position of the snake, and what will happen should we not chop its head off post-haste.

I think perhaps I should start with a bit of history - will have to think about which portion makes the most sense to be the introduction.

If we are to undertake such a project as an archeology of capital and its relations, we must first consider where to begin. The decision of an origin point tells a story and makes a statement in and of itself. We could perhaps begin with the first territorial markings of pre-recorded eras, or perhaps with the first currencies, or perhaps with the first to theorize for and against the concept - Smith and Marx are suitable figures, or even perhaps the real history has only just now begun.

Could we conceive of history beginning in what we understand as the future? What would such a way of thinking about time imply?

Since it is a central figure of our story, let us perhaps start with a brief history of exchange value. An intrinsic concept representing the desirability of goods, services, information, etc - it is not limited in time or place. Future value for instance, is oddly often considered to have more worth than its equivalent in the present tense. This exchange value has been quantified and concretized through physical representations of trust we call currency or money. Perhaps the most influential immutable mobile; currency is used as a medium of exchange, a unit of measurement, a temporo-spatial storage device, and a societal actor. 

When the representations of exchange value have practically equal amounts of use value, one could assume a quasi barter system to be in place. The requisite trust is minimal, because the exchange of value is directly applicable to both transactional parties. However, as is far more common, when the representations of exchange value are essentially worthless or perhaps even entirely immaterial, we enter an era where trade is much more dextrous but requires an immense amount of trust. This guarantee is typically provided by states, governments, or national institutions whose level of stability far exceeds any individual or private enterprise.

Such a system of sovereign backing has great potential, and in many ways elucidates the best of both worlds. A stable and trustworthy entity, established through social contract, represents and provides a secure exchange medium through which all exchange may take place. The value and quantity of the representation is controlled and manageable. The easiest way to institute such a system is with material representations of exchange value and enforcement of explicit valorization of those tokens.

Valorization is a tricky thing to establish once a system is fully underway, partially self-consumed so to speak, but if understood from the outset it is quite a simple task. Exchange representations are only awarded through the application of value-forming labor in societal productions. The definition of this value must of course be set by the controlling entity, but as an example take the trading of financial futures we will address later on. The intermittent exchange of not-yet-valorized currency predicated upon its future accruement of value would be considered 1) immoral and 2) would not be rewarded with exchange value tokens.

Now of course, in order to make the immutables even more mobile we make the logical jump to desiring immaterial tokens, and what may be the beginning of the end. Speaking to a broad timescale this is a relatively recent development, but to many of us it may as well have always been this way. Desiring their tokens to be kept safe, many would deposit them in a central location whose valoried service was to do just that. However rather than charging a fee of those who stored their tokens with them as would be expected, they utilized the concentration of wealth to issue immaterial tokens predicated upon their future return of more than what was given out. Often operating on the reasonable assumption that not all who had stored their tokens with them would desire to utilize them at once, meaning that a fractional reserve is all that would be needed for consistent operation - and the rest could be lent to make a profit.

This is the first immoral practice. In the conceptualization of exchange value as a controlled system we now have free variables which cannot be controlled. Namely, the amount of immaterial, non-valorized tokens which flow freely through the system, the negative value currency created in reciprocity, and the compounding and increasing quantity of exchange value tokens which are created out of thin air through these loaning practices.

The power of value-creation has now effectively been passed off from the high trust, high stability state organization ensured through social contract to a low trust, low stability privatized service. It is arguable whether or not this service is effectively valorized, but it is a demonstrable fact that the way in which they create new exchange value tokens is not. Once that power is lost, the Ouroboros has progressed too far to consider regurgitating itself and returning to the stability that once was. The only option is for outside action to extricate it from this unfortunate situation, through partial surgery or the every so fitting death and rebirth.

We must return to a sovereign valorized system. Let me propose an example of the consequence of immaterial value which is near ubiquitous today. Imagine a totally “outsourced” company – which not only outsources its material production, the distribution of its products, and its marketing strategy and publicity campaigns, but also the design work itself to some selected top designer agency, and, on top of all that, borrows money from a bank. The company will thus be ‘nothing in itself’ – nothing but the pure brand mark, the empty Master-Signifier which connotes the cultural experience pertaining to a certain life-style.

Perhaps I’m getting ahead of myself here - I don’t think the editors will appreciate me rambling on but this is an important point to make. If I set up for a sequel they’ll probably let it slide.

Now that the background is over with, I’d like to speak to the present situation we find ourselves in. Bringing back the metaphor from the beginning of the piece, we are currently in the exact moment of choice: our capitalist society and monetary system is has dug itself in too deep, consumed too much of its own being, and now we must decide whether to feed it exponentially further in order to let it’s continued growth take place - or halt it in its tracks, lob off the head, and start anew with a rich history of problematics to inform our new decision making process.

While I do not have faith in the capability of those in the position to make that decision to choose correctly, I do believe that the latter option is correct. The partial impetus for writing this piece is to garner support and engender public opposition to major supranational financial regulatory institutions such as the International Circulatory Board. While their missions are not inherently evil, historical practices such as structural adjustment programs have systematically dismantled alternative systems and economic explorations. We cannot trust that these organizations will operate with the best interests of the people or the planet at heart, and must begin to raise public awareness of the issues at hand.

As Marx wrote: “The actual burden must be made even more burdensome by creating an awareness of it. The humiliation must be increased by making it public… the people must be put in terror of themselves in order to give them courage.”

My prediction, if I had to humbly make one, is that some form of legislation is to be passed to work in the opposite direction. It will continue to shovel the tail into the serpent's mouth until the constriction it forces upon the world is so tight we will not be able to breathe even if all that is solid melts into air.


Retrieved Email Records From International Circulatory Board Executive Committee Members; Marcus Finch and Tae Joon Hwang

To: mfinch@icb.org
From: tjhwang@icb.org
Subject: Next Steps
Standard Encryption (STLS)  


I wanted to follow up on our last Exec meeting, discuss some action items with you. Do you have time to call next next week? Drop something in my calendar at your convenience - no more than an hour though, I’m a busy person unlike the hippies you’re used to dealing with.

Let me be frank to preface our conversation. Your alternative proposals were well thought out, but I must say it does not feel like we’re living in the same world. Or perhaps I’ve lost the idealism you seem to hold on to so tightly. As Chair it’s my responsibility to make actionable decisions and assess the risks before we commit to any proposal, and given our current situation and the agency the ICB has been granted to intervene - I simply do not have the luxury of dreaming up quasi-marxist reinventions of the labor economy. In a parallel universe I would love to follow you down this rabbit hole but I fear it is not in the cards for us or our organization.

The situation is grim. We need to focus on sustaining what has worked in the past until we have a sure footing again.Then and only then can we consider your ideas for restructuring the purpose of the ICB. For now, I’m going to ask you to back Christina Loowe’s proposal at our next meeting. She has brought forth the only salient idea that will satisfy the parties that matter, AND help those that don’t have a say. Consider the alternatives: a complete collapse of value systems, resurgence of militaristic states, complete infrastructure implosions - you know this better than anyone. The circulatory quotas are the only way to keep the machine running, and that after all is what we must do.

I look forward to talking this over with you, don’t make up your mind yet.



To: tjhwang@icb.org
From: mfinch@icb.org
Subject: RE: Next Steps
Standard Encryption (STLS)  

TJ, my friend,

We’re scheduled for Thursday, 3:30pm BJST. For the whole hour. You better be serious about this. You have your work cut out to convince me.

You realize what you are asking of me right? It’s a betrayal of my personal ideals as well as, dare I say, the reason I was brought onto ICB Exec in the first place.

I know the global economy is in turmoil, and I know the free market has never been worse, but that is exactly why I am pushing for these reforms now. It is precisely because everything is in the shitter once again that perhaps it will draw enough attention to finally be considered a real crisis - one that warrants a real and total recalibration.

Loowe’s proposal is just going to prop up the current system with all of its crumbling mass on twigs. Worse than that even, they’re not even real twigs. It’s a proposal which supports the entire global economy on a fata-morgana, and once that heat goes away and people can finally look at what we’ve done they’ll realize the only way out is collapse. Mark my words.

These circulatory quotas are a joke. So many of our fellow board members think that this can all be solved with some clever bookkeeping. If the GDPs are high no one worries - this is not a numbers game, it’s about people’s livelihoods and the livelihood of our planet. I would like to think that Loowe knows this and can see past the facade of numerical distortion, but I don’t know if that makes the proposal better or worse.

Talk soon,


To: tjhwang@icb.org
From: mfinch@icb.org
Subject: To Clarify
Priority Encryption (ALEPH)  


Regarding our conversation yesterday, I’ve sat on it for a bit and there are some things I want to reiterate to make sure you understand where I am coming from.

  1. Supra-national regulatory organizations like the ICB have existed before, but largely operated through coercion, structural adjustment programs and so on - but the ICB has an unprecedented amount of influence on the global stage. Look how those other organizations turned out, they’re what got us into this mess in the first place.
  2. We needn't operate like we’re living in the past. We have the agency to turn this around, and the rapport to swing governments to our side and work on this collaboratively. What you’re proposing is an undeniable ego trip which makes the ICB the sole support for the entire world-market. 
  3. You and Loowe both have a savior complex perhaps the whole mission statement of the ICB is predicated on having one. But the real world is not. It is far more complicated. The numbers you two are so enamored with are entangled with systems any organization is incapable of managing.
  4. We have a unique position teetering on a razor’s edge. It is our choice now, to choose to support the colossal self-destructive machine of our current system for the limited time it has left, covering people’s eyes as they gaze upon it in blissful ignorance. OR we could blow the whistle now, and become the ones that usher the globe out of this mess. You want to expend all your energy staying above the waves, rather than let it carry you until we find ourselves closer to the shore later on.

I know you’re asking for my support because having the opposition vote would make your life a lot easier. Just come out and say it, but I won’t be bribed.

One day, all that is solid really will melt into air.


To: mfinch@icb.org
From: tjhwang@icb.org
Subject: RE: To Clarify
Priority Encryption (ALEPH)  


Perhaps you couldn’t read my tone of voice. Loowe’s proposal will go through, it is our only way forward - with or without you on board. Catch my drift?

The decision is up to you, but do consider the consequences.


To: allstaff@lists.icb.org
From: tjhwang@icb.org
Subject: [Important] New Policies | Executive Committee
Standard Encryption (STLS)  


It is with great pleasure that I am able to announce the new protocols the ICB will be backing in the coming fiscal year. It is our belief that these policies will stabilize the economic turmoil that has plagued us for the last decade, growing worse every year. Please see the attached proposal for more information. The Executive Summary is copied below for your convenience.

“The International Circulatory Bureau has been the globe’s foremost economic authority for at least 10 cycles. We have spearheaded countless successful initiatives on the world scale, ushering in prosperity and stability for first and fourth world nations alike. Recently our attention has been focussed on a meta analysis of global monetary supply. For the last two cycles our statisticians have been carefully monitoring the fluctuations in currency value, quantity, and supply across all nations and have published several sector relevant reports which you can find in Appendix A of this proposal.

What has come to our attention are the warning signs of a monetary crisis on unprecedented levels - driven largely by the increase in debt-trading practices. Index 6 contains data and graphics which represent the radical increase in preference of negative-value currencies over positive in the last three cycles. In the last cycle alone, debt-currency has been exchanged over positive-currency at a rate of 7:1.

We understand the cause of this to be the simple fact that the implied value of interest bearing debt exceeds that of its positive-value counterpart. This is a natural implication of our contemporary monetary system, and nothing short of total reform would have prevented it. The acceleration however, was quite unfounded. Our models did not predict reaching the current levels until at least seven more cycles. The creation and subsequent rise of several alternative

Black Currencies into mainstream use has upset the balance and pushed us to act sooner than we anticipated necessary.

Black Currencies are completely non-valorized, unregulated, and untraceable cryptocurrencies whose value is backed by partially legal and entirely necessary crediting organizations. It would take collaborative and decisive action from every single nation to eliminate this problem in the necessary timeframe. The ICB does not recommend this for several reasons. Firstly, the coordination effort is immense and will be too slow to come to fruition. Secondly, the process would require a complete overhaul of global monetary systems - returning to sovereign money and damaging international trade relations and the overall speed of global economic growth. Thirdly, the capital required for such an operation and subsequent reform is immense. It would require the reconciliation of all positive and negative value and the reinstantiation of the former, effectively triple all of the currency in the world market.

However, if action is not taken such a reconciliation is bound to happen through natural market cycles. See Appendix C for a comparison of the current social, economic, and political markings to those of previous crises. It is imminent, and we must act soon.

The International Circulatory Bureau has prepared the following document in order to propose to the Council the adoption of a new legislature enforcing an international practice of Circulatory Quotas. These quotas will ensure the prolonged stability of the current system, at the very least as an intermediary measure. In three cycles we will issue a second report and proposal detailing our assessments and whether we recommend continuing the Quotas in the long term.

The core agenda of the Circulatory Quota proposal is to prevent the reconciliation of positive and negative value currencies. By ensuring they are both constantly in flux and never accumulate we guarantee both a continuous growth in trade and industry, while ensuring the reconciliation does not have time or impetus to take place. In Index 2 we have proposed a two-fold scaling methodology based upon national GDP and individual income. Individual nations will then have the option of scaling those further based on localized debt/currency ratios as well as long term goals for productivity, circulation, and wealth redistribution. In Index 3 we detail those modifiers based upon the results of Index 2.

The Circulatory Quota proposal does not differentiate between state, civilian, or incorporation. All are equally subject to the legislation - the success of the proposal is predicated upon total participation. Additionally, it does not differentiate between positive and negative value currencies. We see this as a major strength. Individuals are allowed to trade with and utilize debt-currency as well as positive-currency as they wish, allowing the continuation of our contemporary monetary system without any revision. As they will both be in near constant flux, the risk of reconciliation is minimal. See Appendix E for proposed plans to devalue debt-currency as the Quotas become adopted.

This proposal has the full endorsement of the International Circulatory Bureau. We hope the Council will find it equally as satisfactory, and look forward to working together on the rollout.”

Branch Leads should be receiving rollout protocols shortly, all other staff should standby for instructions.

This could be the beginning of a new era, one with us at the forefront.

Chair Hwang


Neo Albion District 7 Planning Committee Minutes, 4 April, 16th Cycle

CM: Attention, attention. Our second speaker tonight is Samuel Lewis from Ward C. Sam, go ahead.

SAMUEL LEWIS: Chairmen, Chairwomen - thank you for giving me the floor. I’d like to address the committee today about my ongoing surveys of New Albion districts Four, Six, and Seventeen. As you all know, these districts have been particularly interesting as of late due to their location along a spectrum of development extending from the central business district, through the ICB headquarters, and on to the disenfranchised neighborhoods beyond. Four, Six, and Seventeen are not the only districts where profound change is occurring but they do represent a unique cross-sectional slice not quite present anywhere else my colleagues are studying.

[Lewis displays zoning map on screen]

SL: I’d like to draw your attention first to the changes we’ve seen in the last two cycles which I will highlight on our zoning and development maps here, share my assessment of the situation, and then I’d like to propose some motions to prevent future issues we believe may be right on the horizon. There’s quite a bit of content, so I’d prefer if you noted any questions and saved them until the end when there will be some time to discuss the proposals in detail.

SL: I will work my way outwards from the city center, beginning with District Four. District Four lies on the eastern edge, but still very much inside the zone designated as Corporate Business. It shares borders and many characteristics with zones One, Two, and Three. Keep in mind that Four is a part of my study mostly based upon its alignment with the slice I am examining, and that many of the observations here apply to One through Three as well.

SL: After a shaky interim cycle the markets seem to be back in full force, and as has always been the case that means that the CBD is filled with construction once again. I’ve highlighted the lots for you to see here. Nearly 28% of the parcels have been redeveloped within the last cycle, up from 16% in the previous, and estimated to increase to 35% by the end of the current cycle.

SL: Generally speaking this is seen as a positive development, as all new construction generates significant revenue for the city - and, most importantly, density is going up and not down. However, if the rate of construction keeps growing at it’s anticipated pace we will have two major problems to deal with. First and foremost is the disruption to traffic, circulation, and general life in the city center. Even if all the contractors worked out a sophisticated collaborative management plan, which we all know they won’t, we would on average have 27 out of the 56 major arteries closed for 70% of the next cycle. I don’t have to tell you how many problems this would cause, how many residents would complain, or how much money it would cost. I would also like to take this moment to raise to your attention the issue of impermanent resident displacement. Many of the redevelopment sites have taken alleys and extensive portions of pedestrian way offline, and will displace the significant unofficial resident population to unpredictable locations. I would urge the committee once again, to add housing for this population into the next major development proposition.

CM: Sam, please. Why is this our problem?

SL: Because they live in New Albion as well as you and I. Did I say I would rather you hold your questions until the end, thank you.

SL: The other major issue is all the refuse from the buildings coming down. No doubt it will cause a significant increase in air contamination, and the AQI was already registering us in the red for 66% of last cycle. Given the increase in construction and lack of time to flush out the contaminates, we can expect an increase in those numbers as well as a wider spread. Potentially as far out as Districts Twenty and further. Secondly, the landfill space we have immediately available is rapidly filling, and at the current projections will be full in two cycles.

CW: Can’t we just send it elsewhere? To Lurds?

SL: Oh, and of course the height of the proposed buildings will cast much of Districts 7 and 12 into near constant shadow - but that’s a conversation for another day. My initial assessment here is that we must advocate for reuse, potentially by imposing fees and increased taxation on new construction in zones One through Four.

SL: Moving on to Six, we have some fascinating developments going on. The International Circulatory Bureau has recently purchased a large plot of land on the eastern edge, bordering District Seventeen. Their new headquarters will likely bring a great deal of vitality to the area, but we are worried that it may lead to a distinct change in the urban character. The plans submitted, and already approved I might add, predict a building which is constantly in flux. It is in reality no more than an armature to hold modular units shipped in from factories, and potentially exchanged as often as several times per cycle.

SL: A good idea given the imminent onset of the Circulatory Quota legislation, and to top it off they have offered to pay for the infrastructure development needed to support such a system. My worry is this: currently the district exists as a buffer zone, naturally separating and transitioning from the CBD to the lower-income areas on the outskirts of the city such as District Seventeen. We should all understand that such border areas are critical, and provide much needed interaction between the two groups. I have been working on mixed development proposals in District Six for decades now, and that effort is likely to go to waste.

SL: The infrastructure the ICB proses to build in order to support its headquarters would make the area exceedingly lucrative for developers hoping to capitalize on the wave of construction bound to happen when the circulatory quotas are instituted. I predict that this area will, nearly overnight, be converted into a receptacle for standardized modules of high end residential and corporate offices. I recommend allowing the ICB to continue building its headquarters, but limiting the infrastructure development to a highly restricted area - and perhaps preventatively rezoning around 20% of the existing parcels to prevent this eventuality.

SL: Lastly I would like to voice my concerns about what will happen to District Seventeen when the Circulatory Quota rollout is in place. We all are aware that this is currently an economically depressed area, and barring major financial support from the city they will remain as such for the foreseeable future. Without the capital to participate in the construction boom bound to happen, homeowners will either have their properties fall into disrepair - having to allocate their mandatory spending quota elsewhere - or they will be snatched up by speculators and the populace will be forced further into the slums.

SL: The fact that all three of these conditions exist within a 50mile radial slice of New Albion is remarkable - and will only serve to accentuate the aforementioned consequences. To remediate and retain relative stability in these areas, and indeed all across the city, I urge the council to take the proposals I have distributed to them seriously and consider an affirmative vote. Please take a minute to review the Executive Summary on your desk and then I will be happy to answer any questions. Thank you.


Pages Extracted Found from Journal of Imir Kesh, Painter

Book 3, Page 217

is truly unmistakable. I must remember to ask her about it the next time we meet. I wonder if Sharon is familiar with her work… I bet they would both be able to have a long, and probably arduous, conversation about the works of Steyerl and Stanislaw. Note: Have an excuse prepared so you can flee after you introduce them, if the need arises of course.

Ah, sorry to report to my self of today couldn’t make the progress that my self of yesterday set out to do. My current self feels… disappointed? No, more frustrated - angry almost. I imagine my tomorrow self will have internalized those emotions once again though, so I may just fester them for a while longer.

It’s not my fault my subject is so goddamn frustrating! I HATE painting from pictures, but I bet I’ll cave if this goes on for another few years. What kind of charlatan dilutes their perception of reality before creating a piece. It ruins the point of a painting! I recall a stark argument with placeholdername1 about this very subject not too long ago… He thought it didn’t make any difference, but painting is about internalising the world around you and bringing that direct, emotional, perception back onto the page. It takes time, it takes consideration, it takes reflection and introspection. And most of all, it can’t be truthful if what you are representing has been corrupted by a stiff, emotionless piece of technology!

I’m used to painting cityscapes, setting up in a friend’s apartment, or marking a place on a street corner, or a park, so I can return to the same spot every day and take it all in as I process and ideate. I can understand the constant flux of the urban environment only through the backdrop of the constant cityscape. The ephemeral nature of crowds becomes clear against the stoic buildings, the parks which change on their surface with the seasons but the bones remain the same, the rails and transit which while mobile are sublimely predictable…

How I long for those days to be back, to forgo this constant sense of unfamiliarity; it distracts one so from the beauties of quotidian life! My solid foundation, the background to which I was so used to setting the motion and excitement of life, is gone. The damn quotas don’t allow for anything to stay up more than a year. I swear the skyline changes more than Sharon changes her outfits.

I must remind her to check out that shop on High Wacker, some of the blouses were simply sublime.

Speaking of the sublime, perhaps therein lies my answer? I must remember to read Edmond Burke once again - Tomorrow self, take note.

Back to the topic at hand. The current project is looking to depict the blasted

Book 4, Page 12

have been working on it for some time now, but I feel that I have finally made some sort of breakthrough. The damn Circulatory Board headquarters has finally relented into some form which I feel I might be able to do justice to. After tearing it down and rebuilding it who knows how many times (that was a figure of speech, I do because I’ve been trying to paint it FOR TWO CYCLES. For future reference - it’s 8 - one per quarter) they seem to have finally realized that there is a better way to embody their philosophies.

The succession of starchitect designed corporate palaces were aesthetically stunning, even if they were intellectually as flat and fake as their designers. The current design is neither of those things. A sell out corporate referential modernist office block from hell, it seems to fit the organization perfectly.

Harkening back to the ‘Modularity’ trend from, good lord, absolute ages ago - perhaps this new economic regime has finally given that movement a place to realize all of its promises. Who would have thought metabolism would come back at the behest of the market? Somewhat poetic, in the ironic sense…

Anyhow this damn building. Finally it takes a shape perhaps it can hold. And what a boring one. Or Fascinating? I can’t quite tell yet. It is truly Platonic - I can say that much with certainty. Platonic in the most grotesque way possible. It always appears as the same volume but the contents are evey shifting, rearranging, flowing in and out on chthonic tendrils linking it to all the supporting infrastructure of the city. I watch it day after day… I can’t quite tell if it is feeding off of the city, off of us, or nourishing the fabric by way of its outcasts and offshoots (I suspect the former but I suppose only time will tell).

It appears imposing, but perhaps only due to its function rather than its form. It is still dwarfed by the central business district behind but its aura is somehow far, far more imposing. Due to the stark contrast of hardcorist formalism juxtaposed with the surrounding vernacular? Or could it be the sheer chutzpah of the statement harkening back to modernism (with some references to metabolism?) which denies the neoliberal ideology contained within the formal language it so desperately desires…

Last cycle they redid the formwork, I suppose to create a framework within which the future iterations could manifest. The grid has been static since it’s construction - so far, so good. Perhaps this will give me a basis upon which to draw the iterations within. I pray it does.

Book 6, Page 42

Notes towards an ephemeral style:

  1. A reconception of buildings as actors helps to alleviate the stress caused by their constant shifting about
  2. The juxtaposition becomes about scales and rates of change, rather than static/dynamic
  3. Look to impressionism for inspiration
  4. Consider: the medium is static, is this a problem?
  5. In search of a constant, possible answers: Sky (too fickle), Ground (regrettably not as constant as it once was), the Heavens (possible, but vague), the Ghosts of History (think palimpsest - interesting), the Human Psyche (who am I, Freud?)
  6. Perhaps an inversion of roles is in order, the human (perceptor) as static, the world shifting around them
  7. Visualization of invisible flows must be integral to such a style, consider the consistent overbearing presence of circulatory quotas - and the causal relationship they have to the world we find ourselves in
  8. Consult my Architect comrade for further theorizing


RE: OUROBOROS, Update to Previous Article “OUROBOROS”,
Morgan Kernes

Dear reader, I am deeply sorry that I feel like I need to write this piece in the first place. Bear with me, for there will be more substance here than just an “I told you so”. To begin, let me give a quick recap from the previous article.

OUROBOROS was a piece I wrote early last cycle, so it’s been almost two cycles since those initial ideas and predictions first hit paper. I would encourage you to dig it out and refresh your memory, at the very least perhaps you’ll glean some dark sense of omen-schadenfreude.

The piece was a speculative history of Capital and it’s relations, and used the titular reference to foretell the situation we see unfolding in front of us now. An Ouroboros is a mythical dragon/snake creature which is locked in an infinite cycle of consumption and rebirth. Used as an analogy for the particular brand of neo-liberal globalist capitalism which has somehow garnered unequivocal support, it feels like it hits almost too close to home.

The article ended with the following statement:

My prediction, if I had to humbly make one, is that some form of legislation is to be passed to work in the opposite direction. It will continue to shovel the tail into the serpent's mouth until the constriction it forces upon the world is so tight we will not be able to breathe even if all that is solid melts into air.

And here’s the punchline: I told you so. Recent developments coming from the ICB indicate exactly the kind of policy I had feared about to come into effect. They have not released the full brief to the public yet, only sharing the executive summary a couple days ago. The idea of quotas is a textbook example of just such an inadequate crutch. It will be used to prop up the status quo until it has grown so fat nothing in the world could keep it from collapsing.

Furthermore, such policies focussed on consumption and cyclical sustenance of finances are exceedingly detrimental to the foundational networks we all rely upon for our expected quality of life. They prey upon accelerationist tendencies, and undo all efforts of sustainability we have worked so tirelessly to put into place. Resource consumption will skyrocket, and with it so will emissions (See Duarte et al.). We are consciously choosing prolonging the collapse of capitalism over the well-being of our planet. A sin so unforgivable, I shudder to think of the future.

Not that I expected my previous article to go anywhere other than a speaking gig or two - but I fear that we have now passed the point at which I had found it plausible, if painful, to simply chop off the head and undergo a rebirth. I humbly suspect that the ICB knows so as well. There are some good people working there, some intelligent people, and perhaps one or two that are both. That being said - I believe this to be a conscious move on their part in order to prolong disaster and allow for some intelligent nations to adequately prepare. They waited too long to propose any real change, and now it’s time for triage.

Reconciliation of positive and negative value currencies is already well underway. There’s unrest and discomfort in the world’s markets - increasing numbers of people are checking out early and making it much, much worse for those who stay in. Liquidation potential is rapidly approaching zero. The quotas are hoping to draw people back in, but the only consequence could conceivably be exile for life - and really, that may be better than the alternative.

Only time will tell how long these policies will last - but I can tell you this with certainty: it is the beginning of the end. Prepare accordingly.


Retrieved Email Records From International Circulatory Board Executive Committee Members Tae Joon Hwang, Christina Loowe, and Ex Committee Member Marcus Finch

To: tjhwang@icb.org
From: mfinch@imai.com 
Subject: [no subject]
Priority Encryption (ALEPH)  

All fixed, fast-frozen relations, with their train of ancient and venerable prejudices and opinions are swept away, all new-formed ones become antiquated before they can ossify.

All that is solid melts into air.

All that is holy is profaned.

You knew this would happen one day, you just hoped it wouldn’t be on your watch. Guess you should have stepped down last year like you told me you would.


To: mfinch@imail.com
From: tjhwang@icb.org
Subject: RE: [no subject]
Priority Encryption (ALEPH)  

Fuck you.

To: cloowe@icb.org

From: tjhwang@icb.org

Subject: [Urgent] Mitigation Plan

Standard Encryption (STLS) 


We followed your proposal because it was the safest option. Did your research really not uncover any of these potentialities? The committee meeting was uncomfortable enough, and at the SSOC summit I quite literally got my ass handed to me on a silver platter. They see the signs Christina, they know what’s about to happen almost as clearly as we do.

Any hidden language in our policy outlines we can pull to (at the very least) save face? If we don’t do anything, literally every government in the world is going to look at their treasuries one day this cycle, notice that all they own is debt, and the only place they’ll be able to look for an explanation is a 6,000 page document with your name on the front.



To: tjhwang@icb.org
From: cloowe@icb.org
Subject: RE: [Urgent] Mitigation Plan
Priority Encryption (ALEPH)

Tae Joon,

Cut the shit.

You know as well as I do that my proposal was our only option. You knew the flaws in it better than anyone other than maybe Marcus. I did what I had to, no what WE needed to, in order to stay afloat and maintain a proper image. You can’t fault me for that.

The Circulatory Quotas were the only way to keep the machine running - without that grease we would have had this collapse not even a cycle after the founding of the ICB. They were brilliant for what they were.

And look at what we got done? I know states and media alike are going to try to blame us for this, but honestly they should be thanking us for the prosperity and growth we brought them in the meantime. How many houses have you lived in recently? How much travel did you get an excuse to do? How many business deals and investments happened because we required it?

The debt and interest issues were real, but unavoidable unless we wanted to do the full reform Marcus proposed. It’s too late to go back and side with him.

You co-sponsored the proposal, you can’t pin this all on me even if you wanted to. Both our names are stamped onto the policy documents and, as you say, literally every government in the world has a copy. You want to save face in this? You can’t get out alone.

With love,


To: cloowe@icb.org
From: tjhwang@icb.org
Subject: RE: [Urgent] Mitigation Plan
Priority Encryption (ALEPH)


Since we got into this together let’s try to get out together. I’ll cover your ass to the team at least, but I can’t promise anything about the media.


To: allstaff@lists.icb.org
From: tjhwang@icb.org
Subject: RE: [no subject]
Priority Encryption (ALEPH)  


Know that I do not fault anyone in particular for this, but that collectively, we will be taking the blame for a lot of what is to come. The ICB is unlikely to survive this ordeal and will likely be dismantled by the UN - or at least stripped of its power, which is effectively the same.

As you all must be aware, we are in free fall. The Circulatory Quota proposal endorsed by the Executive Board several cycles ago was a last ditch effort to appease our constituents and keep the global market forces strong. I appload board member Loowe for her creative proposal, and in the cycles following we saw unprecedented levels of global economic growth. It allowed us to do many things, advance in many ways; as an organization and a species.

Whether it was faulty assumptions or faulty executions is hard to say, nor will we likely ever have the funding to properly investigate. The fact of the matter is we have failed at our task of maintaining the current economic order, bolstering trade, and making sure the machine runs smoothly. Saying that it ground to a halt would be a disservice to our efforts. I should rather say it exploded in a fiery blaze of glory and took us all down with it.

We wait to see what the bureaucracy will pin on us and what they will shake off to circumstances, but be ready to receive exit protocols - and plan for the worst eventuality.

Yours - perhaps for the last time,

Chair Hwang


Archived Voicemail, E. Strilka (Financier) addressing G. Strilka (Spouse)

[11:42 AM CDST]

Babe please pickup, please


… Hello?


Ok listen. I uh, I just got out of an ICB meeting and we need to act fast if we want to stay on top of this. Check all the accounts we have with SEO and SI Financial - we need to cash out all the debt assets or else things are going to get bad. The reconciliation is coming and all of ICB knows it we need to hurry.

Call me back.

[12:16 PM CDST]

Pick Up Dammit! What are you doing at a time like this? I don’t fucking care because it can wait. You know I can’t check accounts at work - it's against policy so I need you to do this, and I need you to do it soon. Both of our futures are at stake, you hear me?

[12:24 PM CDST]

Hello? Hello!


[12:44 PM CDST]

Hey. Some of the coworkers are talking about the best ways to get out of this. We think the best move is to buy land, doesn’t matter where. Damn I wish I could get into our accounts at work. Listen, call me back we need to get on this NOW.

[1:15 PM CDST]


What are you doing! Why won’t you pick up! I… I just checked. I gave in. I guess maybe you already saw… It’s gone, it's all gone. SEO folded. Our SI account is negative. FDM hasn’t made a statement but they wiped all the accounts, damn fools. JPMCS says we owe them now. The damn swiss aren’t responding to my calls either, but I don’t even have hope for that anymore - Derrick's conto was invalidated and it was bigger than hours so that’s probably fucked.

I hope to fucking god you did what I told you earlier and its not too late. Call me back!


Pages Extracted Found from Journal of Imir Kesh, Painter

Book 11, Page 398

lost almost everything. Sharon too. Not sure what we’ll do now.

I suppose we’ll take what work we have and get out of the city. I’m sure it’s going to get ugly here quite soon. As everything is reconciled there is sure to be chaos, violence probably. We should pack up and go while we still can. Who knows what will happen, but despite loving this place - a large part of me doesn’t want to find out. Future me, steel yourself. It won’t be pretty.

Book 12, Page 1

I’m starting a new book, along with starting a new life. It feels poetic somehow. It’s been a few months since moving out here, I haven’t been ready to start writing yet. So much has changed - about the world, and myself. There’s been a lot of introspection (and extrospection, I guess) and I wanted to get through a large part of it before I started writing in this new book. A clean break, so to speak.

We were lucky, I think. Managed to draw upon some connections I had from the old gypsy days when I was wandering around the country trying to build my experiential foundations. Nothing like bumming cigarettes and being desperate for a roof over your head to get to know some folks. They were good people even if I couldn’t really relate to their way of life at the time. Who would have thought I’d end up joining them - not the other way around.

We struck up something like a caravan. At the onset I thought it would be much more sustainable to stay in the same place, build something of a commune or kibbutz or whatever. Probably my city inclinations coming forth… I was overruled, and of course had to trust our new family. In hindsight I believe they were right. Obviously one cannot say what the other choice had in store for us but our talents feel far more suited to being on the move. We’re almost like travelling performers (how quaint, I know - I’ll get over it soon) bringing some relief to this sorry impression of a nation. The people are in dire need of entertainment or distraction not to mention ART for heaven’s sake, so they treat us well in exchange.

Many small towns and communities seemed to have fared alright actually. Their economies weren’t globalized enough to be completely invalidated by the collapse, and truly after this intermittent period of chaos I wouldn’t be surprised if many preferred to stay this way. At least for a generation or two before the pursuit of “progress” caught back up with them.

The constant travel has certainly changed my style. We don’t stay in the same place for more than a few days, a week tops. I simply don’t have the time to paint the lavish and detailed impressions I’ve been chasing after for years. That being said, I can’t say the change has been negative. Constraints always seem to help in some way, shape, or form. The need to exchange work for food, clothes, and new supplies has forced me to rid myself of many of my tragically potent perfectionist tendencies. It was a bittersweet parting.

I can’t say how long we’ll stay like this but I can’t imagine any less than several years. Even if reconstruction efforts begin immediately, many people (including myself) likely won’t have enough trust in whatever powers are at play to come back into the so-called fold. We can live like this for a while, perhaps even forever if we have to. It’s… quite enjoyable in a way. I’ll have to be sparing with materials from now on, and journaling will take a back seat. Pencils are integral to survival now, so creating work will take priority over documenting life. Today me is feeling optimistic and oddly at peace. We’ll see what tomorrow brings.


Parsed Internalizations/ Internal Ruminations, Subject Unknown

ENCYCLOPEDIA: Capitalism is an economic system based on the private ownership of the means of production and their operation for profit. Central characteristics of capitalism include capital accumulation, competitive markets, a price system, private property and the recognition of property rights, voluntary exchange and wage labor. In a capitalist market economy, decision-making and investments are determined by every owner of wealth, property or production ability in capital and financial markets whereas prices and the distribution of goods and services are mainly determined by competition in goods and services markets.

LOGIC: What this means to you in your muddled but somewhat educated mind, is that capitalism is a system which is built off the backs of others. In order to succeed it is predicated within the ruleset we all abide by that others must lose. You know this to be true through experience and reflection. You know it to be destructive through experience and reflection. So why is it still here? Conclusion: pending.

ENCYCLOPEDIA: You have a vague recollection of some eastern European philosopher saying something along the lines of “the hegemonic powers will never come willingly to the table of discussion.”

VOLITION: You feel a deep urge to force them to sit at said table. Perhaps that was what was originally intended by the quotation you half remember. You are conflicted because you can’t quite remember who said it, or what the original wording was - but you firmly believe in the sentiments being expressed.

PERCEPTION: You look around, remembering the framed photograph to your right. You recall witnessing several periods of profound turmoil during your life. Political mostly, but largely driven by more fundamental concerns for what was then referred to as Human Rights. Protests with millions of attendees, you were lost in the crowd but felt so powerful - so alive. Riots when the protests had no effect, you experienced them so viscerally, adrenaline pumping, fear of punishment and conviction of ideals. The immense pain of crucial martyrdoms is too much. You look away from the photograph.

OEDIPUS: If only everyone thought like you, if only everyone understood what was at stake, embodied the cause - maybe something could change. Maybe you’re the one that can drive that change.

LOGIC:  It is preposterously unlikely that you are alone. There must be others that think alike… These ideals are truly timeless, applicable to any race, class, culture, sex, and era of humanity. How many people would constitute a critical mass? You spend some time reasoning through this conundrum, but can’t come to a concrete answer.

INLAND EMPIRE: You can’t help but imagine these ideals as a timeless externality. The pursuit of a better world has always existed and will always exist. Perhaps the articulations have and will change, but at the core the principles are the same. You visualize this in your mind as some sort of an abstract collective travelling through time and space, people align with it from time to time, progressing its mission, but the timescale of the collective is so much greater than any single or group of members. You dream of this organization, of its members, where they came from, if they were like you…

EMPATHY: You were poor once. Hell, you’re not much better now. You understand what it feels like to have not nothing but not something either. You feel like so many people must have shared in this; this feeling of being able to survive, thinking so many others must have it worse so trying not to feel bad for yourself while you stare with undying envy at those that have it all.

VOLITION: You don’t want this anymore, but you’re not quite sure what is to take its place. You feel a deep desire for justice, equity, fairness… abstract concepts you can’t justify with simple actions or thoughts but know you must have. You know everyone must have them.

INLAND EMPIRE: You dream of utopias, you simply can’t stop yourself. Why does it have to be this way? What would a just society look like, does it need a just economy? Your mind’s eye seems blurry, unfocused, it sees some concept just behind the horizon but can’t quite grasp it. Just beyond reach you can’t seem to get it to materialize.

CONCEPTUALIZATION: Ahhhhh…. Is it socialism? Communism? Anarchy? Syndicalism? Anarcho-Syndicalism? You understand these words on paper. You’ve read about them. Spoken about them actually, with quite some frequency come to think of it. So why does a clear path not solidify in your mind?

INLAND EMPIRE: It dawns upon you that you cannot imagine alternatives because you have no way of expressing them. Every object, concept, entity that you turn your gaze upon appears as a commodity. Nothing in this world that you have experienced has escaped the cold, asphyxiating grasp of the capitalist system or ideology. Being raised from birth to assign everything value, there is a black spot in the center of your conceptual vision.

LOGIC: It stands to reason that behind that darkness must lie the Solution. The solution must be truly useless, for it cannot have a value.

VOLITION: You yearn to reach that spot, find what it is that alludes you, what feels like it should be a way out, a path towards a new set of organizing principles… the longing is almost painful.

RHETORIC: You wish to convince others of this same conviction. Align them with the cause - together you feel you could accomplish something. But the right words, the proper metaphors, figures of speech, compositional techniques, allegories - they all seem to allude your grasp.

CONCEPTUALIZATION: You recall from your now ancient studies that the source of this dilemma is most likely a linguistic problem. The things you are feeling exist and are true, but you are unable to process them sufficiently because you lack the terminology/vocabulary/expressions to make sense of your internal experience. Words lend incredible power of understanding. Without the proper terms you feel lost, unable to grapple with your feelings in a productive manner.

ENCYCLOPEDIA: A fleeting memory of a journal article, or perhaps radio show comes to mind. There was a primitive tribe who didn’t have words for left and right, and so had an impeccable sense of direction due to the necessity of referring to places through cardinal signifiers. Or another, a tribe of people who had no words for the concept of time. You think perhaps they were called Amondro or Amondawa. Regardless, they have no notion of time as a thing through which we progress or events occur within, rather things are cartographically, celestially, emotionally, or categorically designated.

VOLITION: How lovely it would be to exist outside of time. So many pressures removed, so many constraints lifted, so many concerns erased. Your mind nearly drifts off to consider these possibilities, but logic and empathy bring you back to the task at hand.

ENCYCLOPEDIA: Your reflection on the nature of linguistics causes you to remember two quotes by Noam Chomsky which feel exceedingly pertinent to your current situation: “Optimism is a strategy for making a better future. Because unless you believe that the future can be better, you are unlikely to step up and take responsibility for making it so.” as well as “If you assume that there is no hope, you guarantee that there will be no hope. If you assume that there is an instinct for freedom, that there are opportunities to change things, then there is a possibility that you can contribute to making a better world.” You find these to be admirable sentiments.

INLAND EMPIRE: Failing all else, you spend time thinking. Dreaming. Imagining. Creating better worlds, different truths, new realities, alternate timelines. You sit and think. For too long, but you can’t help yourself. Just relax, and continue dreaming…


Transcript of recording, 412GH543_L235_nathaniel_jones.wavv,
Nathaniel Jones.

?????: Mr. Jones, I appreciate you taking the time out of your day to chat with me and agree to be recorded. Is this the first time you all have had a visitor in a while now?

NATHANIEL JONES: Oh you know, we get folks coming by from time to time but yeah it’s been a while for sure. What did you say brought you round these parts again?

??: I’m working on a sort of a documentary project I suppose. Traveling around, talking to people like yourself, recording their stories. I figure it’s going to be pretty important one day.

NJ: Me? Important? Naw son… but ask away I guess, I’ve got nothing to hold back.

??: Well that’s good to hear, and despite what you may think, I am principally interested in you - your opinions, beliefs, values, your story. I suppose you could start by telling me a bit about your history, perhaps by way of where we are?

NJ: Oh… suffice it to say we’re out in what most people would call the backwaters. Even though, and you know this, we’re only really a few hundred miles east of N.A. But out here it’s mostly people just living off the land, what’s left of it at least. A mix of people, probably most born around here that just never had it in them to leave - but a good few like myself that either left and came back, or sought a place like this out. There are appeals to it, contrary to what most people seem to think these days.

NJ: Nothing that special about my story really. Born and raised not too far from here, did alright in school and stuff. Thought I might go to university but had to work to make enough money first. After a couple years went north to a school in a bigger city, don’t really regret it but it just wasn’t for me. I could keep up mostly, but the lifestyle just didn’t appeal. Why go through all that stressful shit when I would be just fine without it? So I came back to somewhere that felt like home. Don’t need to bother myself with all the big and complicated goings on.

??: So what was the take on the actions of the ICB out here, how did your community adapt to the Circulatory Quotas, and how badly did you feel the effects of the collapse?

NJ: Yeah we heard of that stuff alright. You can’t escape that kind of idiocy, even if you were much further out than we were here. I didn’t really get it to be honest, I don’t think any of us did really. I mean we understood what we had to do, sure, they laid that out for us but WHY we had to? Made no sense. 

NJ: Me and some others at the bar had the great idea we could just pay each other back and forth to keep the agencies off our backs. All they cared about was the numbers anyway, I mean that’s the whole reason they decided to do that stuff right? So Johnny did some “work” on my house every few months, I “fixed” up his car, Dennis “sold” us all some hogs, and boy did it look like we went on some drinkin binges at Sherries’ place. Made no difference to us really in the end, just a pain to check that we all broke even but that’s alright. We stick together you know, that’s the most important part.

NJ: And when we heard the money was all worthless anyway? I mean that’s just adding insult to injury. But really, it didn't matter much for us either. It’s not like any of us had investments or stocks or bonds or whatever. We got the land we live on, the things we make, the food we grow. Car parts have been tough to come by I guess, but nothing I can’t work around so far.

NJ: I suppose we started using money a bit less than we did before but it’s not like it stopped really. We just agreed to ignore whatever was happening over in the capital and yuppie world and continue on living like we always have. We decided that the money would keep the same value, and so it did. Simple as that. People around here had always been trading services anyway, so it really wasn't that big of a change for us in the first place.

??: It does certainly seem that way. It’s nice here, peaceful. What do you think of the hard times befallen many of the others in this country?

NJ: I’m glad you feel at home. I mean I feel sorry for em, sure. But I don’t think they get the right to be surprised. It’s like if you saddle up to a cards table, you sit down knowing you might lose. It’s a game, is all it really is. Fancy bettin for fancy people, with a lot more on the line. But most of those people signed up for it you know, so I don’t feel that bad for them. They lived like kings for a while but no one’s power lasts forever. They chose not to learn a trade, provide things for the rest of us. It was a choice to go for money rather than usefulness.

??: Like they should have seen it coming? Does that make it any better?

NJ: You know I've been thinkin about it for a while. Sometimes we get good conversation out here after all. Here’s the way I see it alright: we all are living in an unfair world, that’s a fact - but it’s an opinion, a choice rather, to take advantage of those that got the short end of the stick. And taking advantage can be a lot of different things you know. You have a business, you pay people less to make more money for yourself, sure, but also simple things like not selling your house. You don’t need it if you’re not living there, why not let someone else have it? Like really have it, instead of pay you to stay there. You see what I’m saying? Even just buying stuff. Sometimes people don’t have the means to choose, but if you do - you better make the right choice, the just one, the responsible one. It filters down that way, about living in the world properly. Doing right by others and all that.

NJ: It’s all about personal choice, ideals I guess, at the end of the day. Some of us chose to live out here, some of us were just born here and didn’t know any different - and it’s the same for everyone else. Everybody’s got their own set of problems, their own story, their own life, own ideals. So there’s no harm in living like you want, but you gotta be conscious enough to realise how you’re living affects others. And if it ain’t good for other people, the way you’re living, then you really shouldn’t keep living like that. It ain’t right. It just ain’t right.