CoreCore and the Return of Speculative Irony: Brief Reflections on a Cultural Movement.

61b
Essay

L’audiovision
Hyperreal Image Control
Schizopolitics

Onty
16.07.23

#cinema
, #subculture, #philosophy, #art, #psychology, #crisis,
#retromania, #virtual, #sociology


This text serves as a reflective corollary to my short film Ultra-Core Anxiety 2023: The Anti-Authenticity Sequence published 16th July 2023 on Becoming.press.  The Anti-Authenticity Sequence is an extended exercise in the genre of CoreCore. Beginning on January 9th of 2023, the project consists of forty-five original 1-minute ‘corecore edits’. These clips have been anthologized into a single cut, with some accompanying original graphics bumpers, as well as generous musical contributions from @LilFireManic, @Chypho_, and @CosmoKramerist. The film serves as the culmination of a half year of experimenting with CoreCore as an artistic mode. This essay serves as a critical reflection on the nature and potential of the genre as a whole.

           INTRODUCTION TO THE
           GENEALOGY OF CORE


“It’s equally fatal for the mind to have a system and to have none. It will simply have to decide to combine the two.” - Friedrich Schlegel, Philosophical Fragments (53).

So after all this, what are we to think of CoreCore?  
           For the uninitiated, CoreCore can be briefly described as a pseudo-Dadaist mixed media genre that combines audio and visual elements into (typically brief) cuts. Importantly, while CoreCore explores certain tonal themes (often centering on loss, loneliness, general malaise… although as we will see, this originary form of CoreCore is perhaps in fact ‘Core’ after all), it lacks any strict narrative structure or explicit object of reference. References to the genre emerged circa 2020, arguably first with the work of Mason Noel on TikTok, as ‘Nichetok’ or ‘NicheCore’ and has since extended across the cybercultural landscape. Noel’s first CoreCore edit emerged in January of 2021, but it’s been claimed the term was in use on Tumblr in the previous year (Min Chen, 2023). Early adopters of CoreCore also include Dylan Cherry, Eddie Hewer, John Rising, and -though undeservingly less often cited- Honor Levy. However, identifying the original progenitors of CoreCore is an ultimately stale and retroactive affair of history-making. Many of the above ‘early adopters’ do not, or did not, qualify themselves as such : ‘CoreCore’ is a naming of a phenomenon that has already arrived. Well before the internet constituted its own cultural space, films such as Memory Screen from Alien Workshop (1991) were exhibiting the same style as CoreCore ‘chaos edits’; grab any Dadaist film from the 1920’s and one is left with a similar impression - namely, that CoreCore is nothing new after all. We must also resist the temptation to assign CoreCore its unique cultural position due to its specific thematic preoccupations, since this would, in advance, reduce CoreCore to Core, and prevent from the outset an analysis of its function.  
           I suggest it is not particularly useful to ask when or where this mysterious cultural object of CoreCore originated -nor necessarily what it is- but rather ask how it is serving a particular function now; i.e. to ask why it happens to be necessary for our time (–our time). What problem is CoreCore trying to solve? And what are we to make of the fact that it has succeeded in its solution to the extent that it has been registered as an Event, i.e. that it has been labelled, nominated? Arguably this question can only be ‘answered’ responsibly through the act of ‘thinking CoreCore’, i.e. actually producing CoreCore in its own immanent logic. The film of which this essay is a reflection served precisely that purpose - it was an exercise in thinking CoreCore. However, it is also necessary, I propose, to take seriously the task of addressing these questions textually; to describe post-hoc what it is that one is doing when CoreCore is being produced.  

           THE AUFHEBEN OF CORE
CoreCore must be understood from the outset to be a repeal of ‘-Core’, from which it makes its dialectical leap. The term ‘Core’ predates the internet by a wide margin, via its initial use in the 1970’s ‘HardCore’. Terms like ‘Normcore’ were used as early as 2008 to refer to deliberately bland, corporate unisex aesthetics (Kosalan Kathiramalanthan, 2014). However, the true explosion of ‘Cores’ arguably occurred circa 2014 in the peak of Tumblr’s MoodBoard era – it is worth remembering, to this point, that the first known use of the term ‘CoreCore’ originated on Tumblr in 2020, a year before the term’s first use on TikTok. ‘Core’ can be defined as a suffix which designates its object as an aesthetic category - or, perhaps we could say after Hegel, a determination of the understanding. Thus, for example, ‘cottagecore’ elevates cottage to the status of a category serving to parse or structure experience. The various objects which coalesce under cottagecore -candles, rain on windowpanes, etc.- are authenticated in reference to the identity of the ‘Core’ in question. Candles, wood panelling -whatever- are lent identity, authenticity, essence by virtue of the Core in which they find proximity, they are the phenomenal appearance of the noumenal, essential Core. Crucially, however, the ‘cottage’ which is originally assigned the status of a Core exists as a member of its own set as well as the set per se, such that it assumes a double-meaning. The ‘cottage’ in cottagecore retains a positive identity by virtue of its inclusion in the set, but the cottagecore is elevated to the position of a ‘Zero Signifier’ which refers to the meaning-bearing property of the Core without assuming any particular meaning itself. That everything can be a Core produces an interesting trajectory. As each ‘object’ of Core (e.g. a candle qua CottageCore) becomes its own Core (i.e. CandleCore),  the possible candidate members of Core are cannibalized exponentially into ‘Core’ such that the field increasingly becomes nothing but a void of Cores - to invoke Marcel Mauss, a field of mana without hosts. This is the natural expression of Core’s proliferation, despite the fact that it negates its own function of validating particular identities. In attempting to multiply and validate identities infinitely, Core inevitably produces a field with nothing but the means of validation, nothing but a void as ground.  
           CoreCore, meanwhile, is defined precisely by a rejection of the logic of the external element which characterizes Core. Rather than identifying and expressing a category of the understanding through the elevation of a ‘Core’, CoreCore pushes into the very Form of this understanding. This marks a departure from the logic of Essence-Core and Appearance-Object and presents instead appearance as appearance. Rather than preserving the division between two opposed poles of Cottage and CottageCore, each of which holds its own self-equality, CoreCore pursues a line of speculative cognition that proposes the dialetheic position of asserting the primacy of the contradiction as constitutive rather than derivative of a relation between identities. The gap between cottage and cottagecore, which qua Core is taken as a sort of epistemic limitation to be asymptotically pursued through the multiplication of subsequent Cores, is directly confronted as the ontological condition of Core through its own self-reflection - CoreCore. We might properly call this ‘dialectical’ in the precise sense that ‘Core’ amounts to the moment of understanding, the first moment of Hegel’s dialectical movement - in which the determinations and identities of ‘Cores’ are preserved through relations of opposition -External Reflection- with their objects. CoreCore is not purely a rejection or repeal of ‘Core’ but is properly its sublation - its simultaneous preservation and overcoming. ‘Core’, on the other hand, is in fact the destruction of Core — as its diremptive method of self-preservation amounts to an infinite multiplication of Cores productive ultimately of a field that lacks the objects necessary for the oppositional relation constitutive of ‘Core’.  
           *(Diremption -after Alireza Taheri’s reading of Hegel- refers to a mechanism of misrecognition designed to preserve the relation of External Reflection and prevent the procedure of negative reason).  
The apprehension of this space as not a purely negative void, but rather as a generative field, is precisely the speculative moment - the positively rational moment - which arrives at Core in of itself for the first time. This speculative moment is earned through the second dialectical moment -Aufheben, the negatively rational moment, the sublation per se. Aufheben involves a moment in which the determinations of the first moment encounter their own lack of self-identity and undergo a ‘self sublation’ in which what appears as their external opposite assumes the position of their constitutive condition. CoreCore is thus not so much a rejection of Core per se, as much as an arrival at Core as such; through a rejection of Core as a determination sustained by its position as an external element.  
       The Aufheben of Core occurs, in a properly Hegelian process, through the short-circuiting of its own attempted self-preservation. Because in ‘Core’ the position of Core is hidden behind an epistemic limit, its role as the authentication of its objects cannot but iteratively fail. Put another way, the function of ‘Core’ is not reconcilable with its position. Its function is to lend identity, authenticity, and essence to the object of Core - i.e. to the subject of the predicate. The position of Core as a predicate, however, is a purely negative epistemic position, since it has been elevated to the status of a positive noumenal identity/essence. We might say that since identity is diremptive of the movement of thought and contradiction, the authentication of identity requires the phantasy of a dimension external to thought and contradiction through which to transpose this authentication. This status of Core as an epistemic negativity thus leads to the pursuit of novel Cores, to the indefinite extent that every possible object of Core assumes the position of Core - every subject becomes a predicate. This deprives Core of its external opposite. We can see Cores as a misguided attempt to supersede these limitations of Identity through its multiplication — but only in the precise sense of ‘Bad Infinity’. The difference between good and bad infinity lies in a subtle distinction between two ways to ‘overcome’ Identity. ‘Bad Infinity’ indefinitely delays confrontation with the terminus of a finite determination through a process of repetition - such as the process of remaining in number by ‘counting to infinity’; or trying to break out of gender binarism by considering nonbinarism as its own gender identity. ‘Good Infinity’ involves the process of breaking out of the self-identity of the finite determination itself - i.e. the uncountably infinite; or nonbinarism as the axiomatic contradiction, as opposed to commonplace opposition, of binarism1. That Core stands by itself without its externally reflected counterpart marks the confrontation with its own lack of self-identity. The apotheosis of the proliferation of ‘Cores’ is the death of the object for which Core may serve as a suffix. But this very movement is the ‘passing into opposite’ which constitutes the negatively rational moment and allows for the realisation of the speculative moment, in which CoreCore -which is nothing other than Core itself, for the first time- may be apprehended. There is a subtle insight here: namely that the overcoming of ‘essence’ is earned through the lack of self-identity of appearance: we arrive at Core in of itself -CoreCore- through the death of the object of Core.    
           To the consciousness caught up in this movement, this is why CoreCore seems to be ‘missing a topic’ or that it ‘excludes having an essence’. This is because CoreCore, in presenting appearance-as-appearance, does not operate as a logic of appearance-essence as –Core would. CoreCore has no absent element in an external sense but rather attempts to demonstrate how the ‘gap’ between the elements of –Core and their ‘missing essence’ (the cottage-as-void) is inscribed into the very means of expression itself. CoreCore is ‘without theme’ for the very same reason it ‘resists interpretation’ - it does not hide anything, and in so doing, its surface contains the stopgap which lies ‘between’ ‘the cottage itself’ (cottagecore) and the elements of said Core. The two ‘Cores’ in Core-Core, can thus be read as the ‘speculative moment’ in which essence and appearance find dialectical coincidence. Crucially, however, this coincidence is not an identity but again an inclusion of the radical gap between essence-and-appearance into being itself2.    

           OF WHAT IS CORECORE
           A SYMPTOM?

I have suggested CoreCore can be understood as a dialectical solution to ‘Core’. In order to understand why ‘Core’ is something meriting a solution, it is necessary to contextualise Core in its broader culturo-philosophical field. Core is fundamentally an adherence to Identity -to the essential, the categorical, the finite, the authentic. To echo Hegel’s reproach of Kant, Core attempts to avoid paradox -avoid difference- through locating being at the level of an inaccessible dimension taken to be devoid of contradiction (In its ethico-ontic correlate, we see here an identical move in locating an identity free of sin at the level of Sincerity, which exists in external opposition to Irony). This is the error Hegel levels at Spinoza’s version of determinate negation, which proceeds from a pre-unified Divine Substance - to Hegel, this remains incomplete because it defines all subordinate ‘divisions’ in relation to the identity of the Divine substrate, the Spinozist vision he dubs ‘acosmism’. However, in what we could call the ‘acosmic’ vision of Core, this very void of contradiction removes the Core from thought and so stultifies its possible movement. In order to ‘think’ again -that is, to reintroduce paradox- it is necessary to immanentize the gap between Core and its object. CoreCore, as a technique, is concerned solely with this operation.    
           Again, Core is an instance of what Hegel would call in his Science of Logic ‘External Reflection’. For our purposes here, it will suffice to highlight that External Reflection  involves the separation of self-identical essence and difference in illusory being. It involves the preservation of self-identical essence through its opposition with a field of differences at the level of appearance. These appearances, in turn, are only appearances of the essence which obtains self-identity. This entails two consequences. Firstly, Core requires that any appeal to the reality of its objects depend on an external, inaccessible, mystified self-identical ‘Core’ to which it exists in opposition. Secondly, Core exhibits what Alireza Taheri refers to as Diremptive logic, which is the procedure of misrecognition designed to preserve External Reflection and so shield the determinations of the understanding from dialectical movement.    
           CoreCore is a symptom of a cultural movement away from the logic of Core. We might now say that more generally CoreCore is a symptom of a cultural movement away from External Reflection and the mechanisms of Diremption. CoreCore suggests we are at a point of convergence in cultural exhaustions. Of what are we exhausted? —An improvisation of apparatus that follow this logic might include: the indefinite proliferation of identities inherent to an ‘identity politics’; the poverty of Irony entailing the indefinite deferral of a promised ‘hidden sincerity’ which converts all real action into a de-realized performance, thus serving as a universal permission; the indefinite proliferation of authentic ‘subjects’ (or as Byung-Chul Han has suggested, ‘pro-jects’)  or ‘brands’ which multiply in proportion to the deterritorialization of existential territory via the movement of capital; the transcendental subject of the state and the process of subjectivization as described by Marx, Foucault, and others; the spectral ego formed through immersion in the Oedipal theatre and in general the confinement to the Imaginary Register; the oppositional logic of partisan politics and the depths of reformism; the stale ontic oppositions of naturalist ontology; the nostalgic historicization of a precapitalist idyllic socius; the mystified pseudotheological worship of a God-AI singularity or other -it can’t not be said- oceanic visions of a coming M(other); the hermetic pursuit of the ‘hidden meaning’ of texts, codes, cultures or personalities; the return of mysticism, esotericism, performative ‘schizoposting’ and gnostic knowledge; the regression to false genealogy which is in reality a phantasy of origin; commodity fetishism; naive realisms; and dare we say even Object Oriented Ontology…. Each of these apparatus follow to some extent the logic of Core thus described and thus have played a small role in the mechanism of short-circuiting of which CoreCore is a symptom.  
           In search of a solution or an interpretation it is crucial that we avoid falling back -in theory or in practice- into Core. Amongst the early adopters of CoreCore -indeed, this makes up the bulk of current self described ‘CoreCore’ output- the genre is often reduced to deeply melancholic, nostalgic meditations on the downtrodden subjectivities of late stage capitalism. This brand of CoreCore oscillates between pulpy lamentations of the anthropocene -usually the same two or three clips of BladeRunner, Drive, NightCrawler, American Psycho, or Joe Rogan podcast detritus; and deeply nostalgic phantasies of -usually Oedipalized- early childhood idyllic memory, pre-capitalist modes of life, and so on. The roles of lonecore, anthropocenecore, nostalgiacore, and so on are up for debate, but they are not CoreCore - they are referential exercises which point to external objects - whether lost objects of the past or otherwise.  
          We must remain radical -that is, principled- on this point: CoreCore is not ‘about’ anything, it is not a symptom of a particular Core. It is not even about extinction…  
           A recent addition to the self-professed ‘CoreCore’ canon is arguably Angelicism’s Film01, released in June 20233. It is not entirely clear if the anonymous authors of Film01 consider the work to be CoreCore or not. Various Angelicism accounts have presented it as such, but the deliberately opaque and camouflaged presentation of the Angelicism network makes it difficult -perhaps, disappointingly, by design- to make any certain claims about what is at stake for their project. I am tempted to assume, however, that the authors of Film 01 would ultimately like to consider their work CoreCore: Angelicism, in their Jan 27th (2023) article ‘I Love CoreCore: Some Thoughts on a New Universal Tendency on TikTok’ offers a sympathetic assessment of the genre. Angelicism’s account of CoreCore focuses largely on the extent to which the genre is preoccupied with specific themes (Cores), such as mortality, finitude, and of course – extinction. For Angelicism, CoreCore is a form of ‘popular extinction theory’ — in which what CoreCore attempts to do is “[meet] an immediate human evolutionary need to make of extinction an integral correlative frame, even if it cannot be’’ (Ibid, my emphasis). This description of ‘CoreCore’ is somewhat similar to Hannah Ewan’s (2023) Guardian article, in which CoreCore is presented as means to digest affective material which resists articulation into concrete emotional registers. This is effectively an attempt to “construct a new image, the image of extinction”, which places CoreCore in the contradictory position of a “double category” of articulating the infinite, impossible image / feeling of extinction, despite this very impossibility. This contradictory double position, which “is and cannot be ‘’ simultaneously, is CoreCore. While this does seemingly approximate the famously untranslatable ambiguity of Aufhebung —to preserve, but also to put an end to— Angelicism dodges the possibility of Sublation by preserving the status of extinction as an external object.  
           Has Angelicism entirely missed the point here by reducing CoreCore to ‘ExtinctionCore’? –Yes and no. Angelicism’s error is subtler (and thus instructive) due to the special position assumed by the ‘Core’ of ‘ExtinctionCore’. Extinction, as they have it, is not like the ‘cottage’ of CottageCore, because it is not another finite Core but rather represents ‘Infinity’, it represents the limit of cores as such. For Angelicism the ‘Cores’ as finite ‘feelings’ meet their excess in the oncoming extinction event, which CoreCore ‘imagines’ through its exceeding the logic of Cores – extinction resists being made into ‘content’ and so CoreCore digests extinction for us through its form of meta-content - there is thus only one CoreCore edit as such (hence, I suppose, Film01…), as it exceeds the determinations of Cores per se. CoreCore, in this vision, is a kind of oracular portrait of an incoming external Other which will superimpose itself from without.  
           So where lies Angelicism’s error? —It is that Angelicism reduces CoreCore to the measly position of a negativized object in the specular, imaginary register - a kind of artificially depleted objet petit a without any speculative aspect; an ‘image’ of lack with no generative or constitutive potential. This deflated version of CoreCore can only exist when propped up against its externalised object, the “God-AI’’, “Singularity”, “Network Spirituality” or “Extinction” which serves as the mystified, macguffin Godhead in most pseudo-accelerationist theologies. Here, we must again be firm and note that this is precisely the naive logic of external reflection which characterises the logic of ‘Core’ and which CoreCore attempts to repeal. ‘Extinction’ remains a positive noumenal object which animates the fetishism of ExtinctionCore - it is only in this frame of reference that CoreCore can be cast as a mere ‘Image’ of the lack engendered by Extinction’s necessarily incomplete finite rendering. I submit that in fact, CoreCore is precisely the opposite : it is an attempt to attain the speculative moment in which the ‘lack’ or finitude of ‘Cores’ (their point, perhaps, of extinction…) may also be seen to be that which constitutes Cores from the outset. CoreCore does ape or hide an external Core; but rather, Core apes and hides its immanent CoreCore. CoreCore is an attempt to articulate meaning as such through the sublation of meanings per se, so it cannot be thought of as merely meaninglessness articulated through meaning. Or: because it is an attempt to speculatively encounter the moment in which the gap between finitude and infinity is introduced into Being/Infinity itself, it cannot be thought merely as the ‘image’ of Infinity in finitude. The latter is, in fact, closer to the ‘Bad Infinity’ in which the finite is preserved through its indefinite multiplication qua its internal image of its external end (there are an infinite number of ways to imagine your death, and so you never die…). Angelicism participates in what Schlegel dubs the allegorical poetic form : the mere presentation of the Infinite in the finite.  
           What is particularly ironic in Angelicism’s depiction of CoreCore is that they depict it as a ‘Universal’ - in the same essay in which they cite Mladen Dolar, a scholar preoccupied, precisely, with Universality in the last few years- but seemingly miss Dolar’s central contention; which is that the limit or point of exclusion of a ‘Universal’, the point at which it finds a limit of articulation, a lack, is not an analogue ‘image’ of an external object, but is rather constitutive of the Universal itself. The ‘Other’ of Universality, for Dolar, is the externalised reflection of its own constitutive point of contradiction, a misrecognition of its own lack of self-identity. The notion of ‘Extinction’ as some externalised ‘Other’ of which CoreCore is an incomplete ‘Image’, only serves to preserve the Universality of ExtinctionCore’s accelerationist PseudoTheology4.  

           DIREMPTIVE IRONY AND THE            RETURN OF SPECULATIVE
           IRONY
In the above discussion I suggested that a certain form of Irony might operate in the logic of Core, and so might be part of that of which CoreCore is a symptom. In these last reflections, I turn specifically to Irony, as I believe the advent of CoreCore may also herald an analogue movement in the cultural form of Irony.  
           In his breakout oeuvre, the  Sublime Object of Ideology,  Žižek famously aims to demonstrate how our cynical and ironic culture is in fact not so post-ideological after all. He demonstrates this by detailing how ironic distance may be a technique constitutive of ideology itself — in other words, one’s ironic ‘performance’ of the status quo allows for the surplus-enjoyment of knowing that one does not ‘sincerely’ believe in ideological premises. This allows one to more easily participate in the ideological structure free from the traumatic Real of one’s own material conduct. No matter what one does, one’s actions may be validated and integrated into one’s identity at the divorced register of ‘Sincerity’ - in other words, the world of material actions (that is, the world as such) is reduced to the play of differences in illusory being, which stand in opposition to the self-equality of essence. This is what we might call Irony as ‘External Reflection’ or more simply ‘Diremptive Irony’ — For the subject caught up in this movement, what one does is less real than what one is; and the gap between the dimensions of action and identity constitutes the opening of indiscriminate permissions. In this sense, we ought to reverse the notion that a sense of sincere identity guides and limits one’s actions: in fact, it is only when the homunculus of a hidden ‘authentic’ sincere identity is fully betrayed that again less is permitted.  
           This brand of Irony neatly conforms to the formula of External Reflection and diremption that is associated with the logic of Core. The vanguards of Diremptive Irony -the Dasha Nekrasovas of the world- relish in this very cost of diremption. The apprehension of Irony as a mere illusory being in external opposition to the self-equality of sincere essence comes at the cost of forever severing oneself from reality — nothing one does is real, because reality is operative only at the level of the inaccessible dimension of identity free from contradiction. This heavy cost, however, is deemed acceptable by those who have invested -libidinally or otherwise- in sincerecore, in the essence which opposes Ironic performance and which, through this opposition, opens a window of universal permission.  
           This formula allows us to understand the apparently contradictory overlap between those who indulge in irony-poisoned performance and the melancholic reinvestment into ‘trad’ identities — the total derealization which is inherent to the ‘irony poisoning’ exists only in relation to the essential identity which is the true desiderata of the diremptively ironic agent. This opposition serves as the scaffold for what Brad Troemel neatly identifies as the secondary audience required for the reactionary transgressive5. The reactionary transgressive performs gestures designed to antagonize a phantom audience of pearl-clutchers (libs, or whatever…) but only so that the primary audience can enjoy the performance as an authentically transgressive act — the function of the secondary audience is to validate the transgressive quality for the primary audience. The secondary audience -which is never really real- acts as a ‘dummy’ in the formula, but the mediated relation between the performer and the primary audience is also of interest. The reactionary transgressive effectively offers the primary audience a fetish -an offering- validated as transgressive by the secondary audience, to be enjoyed by the primary audience. In this sense the performer is structurally in the position of the Pervert: they assume the position of always knowing what the Other wants, always implicating themselves in the position of the Other’s desire. This Other -encountered in the imaginary register as the primary audience- is defined by its capacity to digest anything as enjoyment. Its capacity to do so is proven through its being ‘fed’ what are ultimately faux-transgressive acts and objects. Intuitively there is nothing more threatening to the Diremptive Irony Pervert than a real transgression - that is, an act that cannot be digested by the Other as enjoyment- and thus they are extremely sensitive to any sort of disruption of performance, any sort of true indignation which may serve as a hard kernel of the Real clogging the Other’s throat… Just as there is nothing more threatening to Diremption than thought, movement. While the pearl clutching of the secondary audience is a necessary element to their transgressive performance; genuine refusal to enjoy short-circuits the entire structure : Red Scare could never survive a situationist6… This ‘Other’ which serves as a phantasy of enjoyment without exception is correlate to the structure of diremptive irony in that it serves as the psychic process underlying the total derealization of all action into performance. Thus derealized, it may be held in contrast to the reinvested essence of Sincerity. This context also accounts for another peculiar tendency among the vanguard of Diremptive Irony, namely the attempt to cast the status quo as the ‘true counterculture’. This is essentially an attempt to further territorialize the field of transgression — if the status quo is transgression, then the game of ‘feeding’ transgressive objects to the Other may continue indefinitely. In this position it is not the goal to transgress - it is to secure one’s position as a subject.              
           Here I suggest however that it is important not to give up on Irony, nor to surrender its name. Diremptive Irony is not Irony. Nor are we after a ‘New Sincerity’ since that merely entails a return to the opposite pole of the external reflection which constitutes diremptive irony. If diremptive irony operates like Core — what is to Irony what CoreCore is to Core? Much like CoreCore is, simply, Core as such, what we are after is Irony as such, the true form of Irony, which is merely occluded by Diremptive Irony. As the title of this essay suggests this is not anything new but rather a return to an older meaning of Irony — namely, romantic irony, specifically Irony as described by Friedrich Schlegel. Schlegel’s model of Irony is in fact derived essentially from Fichte’s writings on consciousness and the self.  The full scope of this derivation can’t be explored here, but for our purposes a brief sketch can be outlined.  
           Schlegel distinguishes between Allegory, Wit, and Irony. Allegory, for Schlegel, involved a reflection of the infinite in the finite. Allegory assumes a theological character in that it deals essentially with an image of infinite divinity qua mortal finitude. Allegory is the tendency towards the absolute within finitude, it is a self-exceeding towards the infinite. Meanwhile in wit (Witz), the finite series experiences a flash or hint -andeuten- of the Infinite as a unity - in wit, the world is grasped as fettered within limits (Frank, 2004). Irony for Schlegel is the speculative moment in which Wit and Allegory find synthesis: it is in its -witty- movement a particular unification but -allegorically- not an identity, but rather a surpassing of limits. The true home of Irony, for Schlegel, was as per his Philosophical Fragments (42) in fact philosophy - irony is the very form of paradox (Ibid 48). This paradox involves the simultaneous self-creation and self-destruction (Ibid 37, 51) of the idea implicated in the ironic utterance. Irony is, arguably, a speculative moment earned through Aufheben; while ethically, it is the “surpassing of all self-imposed limits” (Frank 2004).  At risk of an unnecessary neologism I suggest we call this return to Schlegel’s irony ‘Speculative Irony’, since diremptive irony suppresses precisely the speculative element of Irony as such. Here, our maxim should be: all Irony which participates in External Reflection is Diremptive of Speculative Irony. False attempts at exceeding limits - meagre gestures of transgression- are at best mere Allegory; while returns to ‘Cores’ or trad identities are at best mere flashes of unity, or Wit. That which is Speculative Irony -the real transgression- struggles forward. CoreCore, which is nothing other than speculative irony manifest in the form of the digital image, finds a small role in this forward movement.    

– Onty, Montréal Canada, 2023/07/16 for Becoming Press

           ENDNOTES

1 The distinction between commonplace opposition and axiomatic contradiction comes from Ramist logic, and is similar to the distinction between the principles of excluded and included middle. In the case of commonplace opposition, the negation of a term implies the positive identity of another term; such as ‘non-hot’ implying ‘cold’. In the case of axiomatic contradiction, the negation of a term does not refer to another identity but rather merely to the field which is different from the negated term; i.e. not-hot is not any more ‘cold’ than it is ‘teapot’ or any other positive entity.
           2 For a more sustained exploration of this definition of CoreCore, see Onty, 2023. ‘What is CoreCore? In 777 Words or Less’. OnMyComputer Issue 1: Submersion.
            3 I have been lucky to have benefited from stimulating conversations with Louis Morelle on the topic of CoreCore and Angelicism; who is also preparing his own essay on the subject. John Michael, Dylan Smith, and NeoliberalHeaven have also been generous in providing me context to the Angelicism phenom.   
           4 A small addendum – I admittedly have not yet seen Film01 because the film has not yet seen a release accessible to the general public. However, to paraphrase Wittgenstein’s quip about the unconscious, while I cannot judge a film I have not seen, but I can judge a non-film I have seen – and it does seem almost a bit too perfect that the project itself has assumed, materially, the position of a hidden object - precisely that which CoreCore rejects at all costs.  CoreCore resists interpretation, but -paradoxically- only because it has nothing to reveal. It is a crucial misunderstanding of CoreCore to think that it has secrets.
           5 Conversations with John Michael as well as Dylan Smith of the ‘OnMyComputer’ Journal  have been particularly enlightening as to the social and political nuances of the irony-poisoned depths of the NYC ‘avant-garde’ scene. 
           6 To this point, the recent disruption of a RedScare-Adjacent Thiel-funded poetry reading by a certain situationist called Alice Aster should be instructive to us.

           WORKS CITED

Onty, 2023. ‘What is CoreCore? In 777 Words or Less’. OnMyComputer Issue 1:Submersion

Explained: What Is Corecore, the Dada-esque ‘Artistic Movement’ Now Trending on TikTok?︎︎︎

On the Origins of Normcore︎︎︎

'I LOVE CORECORE': SOME THOUGHTS ON A NEW UNIVERSAL TENDENCY ON TIKTOK︎︎︎

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           REFERENCES

Frank, Manfred. “The Philosophical Foundations of Early German Romanticism, trans.” Elizabeth Millan-Zaibert (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2004) 169 (2004).

Schlegel, Friedrich. Philosophical fragments. U of Minnesota Press, 1991.

Taheri, Alireza. Hegelian-Lacanian Variations on Late Modernity: Spectre of Madness. Routledge, 2020.

Zizek, Slavoj. The sublime object of ideology. Verso Books, 2019.