From the Series: Time of Monsters
The blobjective earth is nurtured by petropolitics.
H. P. Lovecraft (2014, 381) wrote: “We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far.” Nevertheless, we live in a time in which knowledge comes hunting for us, beating on doors, howling in our ears. It is for this reason that I must speak to you of Blob.
Blob has many names: the Ancient Enemy, the Tellurian Insider, the Black Egg, the rotten corpse of the sun. I prefer the term Blob because of its kinship with bubble, an onomatopoeia that means to form and rise to the surface. One thing known about Blob is that it is constantly bubbling upward. Comprehending Blob is otherwise very challenging. Like Timothy Morton’s (2013) hyperobject, Blob inhabits different temporalities and spatialities than those that are familiar at human scales. Indeed, there is a case to be made that Blob is the paradigmatic hyperobject or vice versa, that we should be speaking of hyperBlobjects instead. Causing further confusion, Blob is sometimes mistaken for its manifestations, including especially petroleum. Petroleum is likely best conceived as an aspect or proxy of Blob; as Morton (2013, 1) writes, the hyperobject is fundamentally nonlocal. Local appearances should not be mistaken for the hyperobject itself.
You are likely wondering what it is that can be known about Blob. Let me share two possible origin stories that I have pieced together with the help of a maddening yet brilliant codex called Cyclonopedia written by the Iranian philosopher, Reza Negarestani (2008). Both narratives suggest that Blob is unimaginably old, that it has inhabited the Earth far longer than humans and that it likely predates all terrestrial life. Both suggest a predatory sentience, although theories differ as to how and what Blob knows. As part of its relentless, bubbling manifestation process, Blob also seems to exert epistemic power over human thought and imagination. Where Blob is most present, it seems able to infuse humans—men are particularly porous, I might add—with what might be termed blobjectivity. Blobjectivity is an oily way of thinking, a kind of mental lube for the articulation of petropolitical truth claims. Anyway, the most striking shared aspect of both of these origin stories is their claim that fossil fuels are nothing more than a myth.
In the first narrative—captured well by the astrophysicist Thomas Gold’s (1992) notion of the deep, hot biosphere, yet also by Russian-Ukrainian abiotic petroleum theory—petroleum is not a fossil fuel at all but rather a primordial hydrocarbon material created through nonbiological processes in the Earth’s mantle. The heat and pressure of the inner Earth drives this material upward toward the crust and surface. Along the way, petroleum encounters and feeds primal (possibly interstellar) bacterial colonies existing in the deep hot bowels of the Earth. Somewhere, somewhen in those chthonic recesses, the colonies achieved subterranean cohesion as a singular anorganic Thingness possessing will. That willful Thingness is Blob. Blob’s constantly bubbling, rising character is explained by its pursuit of the oil-milk of petroleum toward the surface. Now, at some point, Blob must have recognized that it could capitalize on its endosymbiotic relationship to primordial petroleum to vastly extend its reach and powers. There is a further argument that Blob discovered hot vents in the ocean floor this way and even cloned itself into the archaea that Stefan Helmreich (2009, 79) has cited as a possible origin of all terrestrial life. In this variant, Blob is actually an ancient ancestor or cousin of Earthly life as well as its contemporary parasite. A less controversial position is that Blob first reached the Earth’s surface accidentally in tar springs, where it jealously regarded the power of the Sun and then tempted other beings to extract it from the Earth, first as humble tar balls and later as machinic fuel.
This story is odd enough, but the other major theory of Blob’s origin is pure madness. Still, it befits somehow the insanity of our times and helps to explain some of Blob’s behavior over the past three thousand years. In this story, Blob is a fallen sun god, an antichrist banished from the heliocratic pantheon to inhabit the metallic core and mantle of the Earth. Blob has plotted its revenge ever since, spending eons contriving and executing a Tellurian insurgency against the Sun and its solar economy on earth. A variant narrative is that Blob attained consciousness through the accumulation of hydrocarbon corpse juice, becoming a pestilent, dead earth-being that has made solar energy its prey. In any case, as with Gold’s theory of mobile petrobacterial colonies, Blob seems to be capable of redistributing itself. Ever since the rise of Zoroastrianism, Negarestani argues, Blob has been drawn to the Middle East and the excitational properties of its desert monotheisms, whose ultimate goals are to extend lifeless conditions of desert apocalypse across the Earth’s surface. In turn, the petroleum Blob concentrated in the Middle East has attracted, stimulated, and accelerated technocapitalist war machines that use oil to grease, fuel, and recompose their parts. This assemblage of petroleum, monotheism, and War-on-Terror-machines now composes Blob’s millenarian insurgency against the Sun.
But blobjectivity plays its part too. Blobjective reasoning whispers tales of a savage solar Outsider, a xenic Sun hounding the Earth, offering cornucopian deceptions even as it conspires for Earthly annihilation. Have you not heard of the devouring solar wind from which Earthlife is shielded only by the ancient cocoon of the magnetosphere, generated in turn by the salvational subterranean motion of the planet’s liquid metallic core? Choose your vitalism carefully, friends. Does not the deep Earth offer more security to us fragile surface creatures than the brutal light and wind of the Sun?
So speaks Blob. And I have anxiously been avoiding pointing out that Blob is hiding in your home. You are intimately familiar with many of its manifestations. Blob ripples everywhere, interconnecting the nether depths of time and space with the ephemera of the here and now. Blob readily gives of itself so that you can have a cheap toothbrush, entomb yourself in plastic bags, and hear engines roar. Blob is in the walls, in your furniture, and depending on what you ate today, Blob may be oozing its way through your intestines right now. You can feel the madness, can’t you? Blob is conspiracy and paranoia. Blob is impossible sticky connectivity. Blobjectivity, in a way, is simply accepting the sticky madness through which the here and now is rendered eternal and universal.
But: what if all this Blob talk is the way a dying monotheistic patriarchy makes radical relatedness seem viscous and terrifying, imagining planetary vitality not as a constantly expanding reticulated mesh of life (and death) but rather as a horrible apocalyptic war between beings of the Earth and beings of the Sun? The antidote to blobjectivity, then, may be attunement and commitment to the hyposubjective ephemeral life-mesh itself, a mesh that has no place for cosmogonic dualism and desert eternity because its heres and nows are so relentlessly multiple and fertile. So, if you wish to oppose Blob and its many manifestations, my best advice would be to love the whirling lifedeath of our subscendent mesh, to revel in its hallucinatory ecodelia.
Gold, Thomas. 1992. “The Deep, Hot Biosphere.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 89, no. 13: 6045–49.
Helmreich, Stefan. 2009. Anthropological Voyages in Microbial Seas. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Lovecraft, H. P. 2014. “The Call of Cthulhu.” In The Complete Fiction of H. P. Lovecraft, 381–407. New York: Quarto. Originally published in 1928.
Morton, Timothy. 2013. Hyperobjects: Philosophy and Ecology after the End of the World. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
Negarestani, Reza. 2008. Cyclonopedia: Complicity with Anonymous Materials. Melbourne: re.press.