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Cyclonopedia: Complicity with Anonymous Materials

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  521 ratings  ·  94 reviews
At once a horror fiction, a work of speculative theology, an atlas of demonology, a political samizdat and a philosophic grimoire, CYCLONOPEDIA is work of theory-fiction on the Middle East, where horror is restlessly heaped upon horror. Reza Negarestani bridges the appalling vistas of contemporary world politics and the War on Terror with the archeologies of the Middle Eas ...more
Paperback, 264 pages
Published August 30th 2008 by Re.Press
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3.88  · 
Rating details
 ·  521 ratings  ·  94 reviews

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May 05, 2011 rated it did not like it
Maeby: No, deep is good. People are going to say, “What the hell just happened? I better say I like it.” ’Cause nobody wants to seem stupid.
Rita: I like it!

Somewhere, in some beautiful alternate universe, some years ago the young Iranian student Reza Negarestani was denied entry to the graduate school of the University of Warwick and, crushed, never received any academic training in the field of philosophy. After wallowing in disappointment for a few years, he channeled his despondency into Cycl
Mar 13, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Sui generis, confounding, disturbing, difficult, absorbing, and ingenious: all of these adjectives are fitting labels to describe Cyclonopedia, a work of theoretical fiction by Iranian philosopher Reza Negarestani that falls about halfway between theory and fiction - a nebulous netherpoint with blurred edges that is so utterly appropriate to the contents that lie within.

Posit an Earth that, in its submissive wholeness, is an ordered and orderly component of the Solar Empire, the hegemonic domain
Jan 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
To understand the militarization of oil and the dynamism of war machines in War on Terror, one must grasp oil as an ultimate Tellurian lubricant, or a vehicle for epic narratives.

I kept thinking of Terminus, the Roman god of boundaries while plowing through this book. Sure the prose as such was the epitome of opaque and dense: thus a sheer alternative to the smooth spaces of the Warmachine and the Lines of Immanence. I read somewhere recently that the Israeli Defense Force has begun incorporatin
my name is corey irl
Jun 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
so its super complex and you gotta know a bit of deleuze an guattari and theres a whole chapter on dust and i know what youre thinking: i could read like five or six animorphs books in the time it takes to read this. well the good news friend is that its worth at least that many animorphs if not more (and yes before you say it that includes the one where they all turn into dinosaurs). startling i know but there you have it
Nate D
Nov 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
I can practically feel this rewiring my brain. What is the zone of neuronal interconnection but a vast Nemat-Space (the increasingly fractal cavities the writing often explores)? A bit like Chris Kraus and Borges collabing on Deleuze/Lovecraft slash fic. Borderline parody of academic theoritical writing as paranoid conspiracy, except that many of the conclusions Negarestani draws as he constructs his wild, strange connections (MENA archeological history, oil economics (petro-polytics), radical I ...more
Oct 28, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Cyclonopedia is indisputably one of the most challenging and impressive books of the 21st century. I am not sure how much familiarity with key texts like the works of Deleuze and Guattari or Middle Eastern references can be helpful in reading the book. The synthesis of ideas and the mechanism of analogies are quite different from anything out there. It is a book that requires the reader to think differently and become accomplice in the way it thinks and put things together. For reading cyclonope ...more
Jun 05, 2015 rated it did not like it
TV Tropes calls it the "Tome of Eldritch Lore." It's a staple in Lovecraft's Cthulhu mythos, where the original Necronomicon has been supplemented by the fictional Unaussprechlichen Kulten, or the fictive poems of historical writer Olaus Wormius (references from Eugene Thacker's review of this book). These are the works of scholars with lax compulsions about messing with extra-human arcana, scholars who are inevitably driven mad by the knowledge they accumulate.

Such books exist within stories g
Ronald Morton
Feb 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I wanted to start this review with some sort of reasonable definition of just what Theory-Fiction really is. And yet, I can't really find anything concrete.

Reza (the author) describes it as such in a brief description of a talk he gave earlier this year:

theory-fiction as philosophy's simulation engine

I also came across this description (of another) work on which at least covers some of the concepts (Link):

By "theoretical fiction" I don't mean books which are merely informed by theory
Nov 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Cyclonopedia is a work of philosophy embedded in a horror novel which is wrapped in a literary hoax involving the written legacy of Dr. Hamid Parsani, recently disappeared. While comparisons to House of Leaves are apt, Cyclonopedia offers more theory than plot and leaves a thick, oily residue in your brainpan. Is the Middle East an intelligent entity? Does the earth yearn for solar immolation? What is the esoteric role of oil in the "war on terror"? The book's blurb rounds it all out nicely:

Gnome Books
Dec 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
like some delightfully overblown prolegomenon to Pierce
Oct 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
In a recent interview Reza Negarestani basically disowned this book--along with the influence from occult philosophy, H.P. Lovecraft, Nick Land and the daemonological prolix of the Outside in its many hues, trading up for the utilitarian calculus of rigor and clarity, the moth-eaten abacus of academic-left orthodoxies. He went so far as to scold the breakneck vulcanism of accelerationist philosophy as purple prose disguising a scientifically-illiterate avant garde, a renunciation which is tuned ...more
Oct 19, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: trippy, gimmick
Allow me to get on my soapbox for bit: A book's difficulty is not directly proportional to its brilliance. Some difficult books are pure drivel, and some simple looking books are pure genius. This particular book requires a lot of work, and a great deal of patience. For this, it is to be both admired and alternately thrown against a wall.

Part of the unusual nature of the book is the way that it is written. It starts out as a somewhat typical story would - meaning that it contains characters and
Paul Roberts
Apr 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
Brilliant and yet frustrating as hell.
Negarestani forgoes the exploits of man while offering his treatise on Naft. There's nary a reference to drilling, fracking and the like. Instead, we are like ants on the solid body, doomed to experience an impending openness we cannot conceive.
The bulk of this book will make you want to tear it to shreds, or burn it wholesale.
The best parts of Cyclonopedia's theory fiction (particularly the well-earned conclusion) will make you want to ink its insights int
Jim Elkins
Oct 09, 2012 added it
Shelves: iranian
How Difficult it is to Escape from Academic Writing

This remains a very interesting book ten years after it was published. The back cover copy makes it sound like it's science fiction. One of the endorsements describes it as "an uncategorizable hybrid of philosophical fiction, heretical theology, aberrant demonology and renegade archaeology." That's a bit sloppy, because the book is only philosophical fiction in the sense that it is invented, a la Borges or Lem. And heresy isn't its point. "Cyclo
Ross Lockhart
Mar 18, 2013 rated it liked it
Cyclonopedia is a dense word salad smothered in a thick dressing of crude oil and bitter herbs. Taking the Lovecraftian conceit of a corrupting found manuscript to its logical, postmodern extreme, Cyclonopedia posits an accidentally-discovered philosophical treatise riddled with plot ( )holes and uncanny revelations, including sentient oil animating and inhabiting the Middle East, embroiled in an eternal conflict with solar hegemony. A touch of cosmic horror, an inkling of Apocalypse Now, a pinc ...more
Nov 17, 2009 rated it did not like it
Shelves: slipstream
I was excited to read this book once I heard the nutso title. Really excited, but I couldn't find a library that had it, so I sprung for my own copy. Woe be to me. I made it through the first 50 pages before stopping, and I wouldn't have read that much, except I was on a seven-hour flight to Honolulu and had nowhere else to be.

The first few pages are a hopeful kind of Gibsonesque new-century sprawl, as are the footnotes, but the rest is purpoted psychotic rambling. 99% of the book. Mostly incomp
David Peak
Dec 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Deleted my earlier review because it seemed short-sighted. Since initially reading this book a few months ago, I have almost completely reassessed my priorities as both a reader and a writer. Cynclonopedia has proven to be the beginning of a long, sometimes difficult enlightenment. Probably the single most significant text I've come across since being taught Bergson's Matter and Memory in college.
Mar 06, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2014
pretentious to the point of absurdity
Sep 25, 2013 rated it liked it
A mad pseudo-theoretical romp, a scaffolding of cryptic phrases and invented jargon, elaborately-constructed around a few genuinely interesting ideas.

There isn't much of a story here, though some of the summaries belie that fact. There's a very loose framing narrative, which gives a little historical/documentarian flavor to the prickly, abstract bulk of the book. However, it's more of a game being played with certain ideas: oil as a fundamental agent determining history, military and ideological
Jun 09, 2011 rated it did not like it
Shelves: half-read
Man, this one is kind of hurting me to read it. It's a bit crazed. And the endnotes!§ If this ends up being a waste of my time I'm going to punch China Mieville and the guy from BLDGblog in the mouth.


Yeah. I'm done with this.

Sep 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book is that most unlikely of hybrids, a highly experimental and postmodern text that is, at the same time, as captivating and page turning as a mainstream airport spy thriller novel. Really fascinating stuff, if only more Lovecraftian novels displayed this much originality and inventiveness: it's easy to see how this book was a big influence on Grant Morrison's Nameless comic book (what with its frequent references to the demon AZ and an Earth constantly being threatened by sadistic beings ...more
Dec 29, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Not ready to review yet... mind still blown.

UPDATE 5/14/2012: Fifteen months later, I'm still not capable of writing a coherent review, but I definitely recommend it if you like at least two of the following: cracked conspiracy theories, occult horror, Tristram Shandy.
Feb 15, 2019 is currently reading it
The wokest book to ever be written.
You cannot tell what the fuck is going on at any given moment. Lovecraftian fanfiction mixed with Deleuzoguattarian word-salad philosophy mixed with the plot of Apocalypse Now mixed with Middle Eastern geopolitics (oil economy is here called "petropolitics", with Oil being a sentient entity and manipulating several players on the world stage of geopolitics) mixed with Occultist nonsense.

There is no real way to describe this novel. It's not pure word-salad as
Apr 15, 2011 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: crazy people
Recommended to Brian by: Nick Black
Shelves: crazy
(2.0) I'd love for someone to explain what the heck this is, I'll even consider reading it again.

I just don't know what I just experienced by reading this. Quick summary:
* there's a short intro, supposedly by Kristen Alvanson (more on her later), journalist(?) who is supposed to meet an Iranian whose name is an unpronounceable (just by her?) serpent-like symbol (Satan? ;) ). Instead of meeting him, she finds a manuscript (Cyclonopedia itself, with odd marginalia that appears in our book as footn
Karlo Mikhail
Aug 22, 2011 rated it it was ok
Not everything we read is to our liking. These past weeks, I’ve been spending bits of my time wrestling with a mish-mash of Middle Eastern esoterica, Critical Theory, and metaphysical Political Economy called Cyclonopedia: Complicity With Anonymous Materials by one Reza Negarestani.

It begins with an American woman arriving in Istanbul to meet an online friend. The anonymous acquaintance never arrives. What she does find in her hotel is a mysterious manuscript.

Lured by what seemed like a promisin
Eric Phetteplace
Oct 08, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: philosophy
Cyclonopedia is an ambitious and extravagant work, pulling in archaeology, demonology, geopolitics, topology, kinesthetics, religious studies, philosophy, mystical numerology, war/military studies, culinary theory, and more into a helical, bitterly paranoid treatise on the Earth, the Sun, and oil. The premise, vaguely, is that the Middle East is a living entity and the oil underground/molten core of the Earth manipulates people and politics in its efforts to achieve a burning immanence with the ...more
Wilfredo Rodríguez Dotti
Aug 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
The synopsis of this book is complicated, in a very generalized way it implies that the Earth is a machine designed to secrete oil, a substance that becomes a sort of supreme "lubricant", a form of consciousness, "the black corpse of the Sun ", a vehicle for narratives that revolve around the Islamist militarization, the" war on terror" and war as a deity prior to the human being. Cyclonopedia has a hybrid nature that includes notions of Zoroastrian philosophy, sex, numerology, demonology, bacte ...more
Oct 18, 2009 rated it really liked it
Weird, twisted, incredibly difficult to read but its philosophy read like poetry is rather gripping in a dark way that breaks into pure terror. The (un)conventional story's contained in the footnotes, and I am still thinking about what happened. As I ponder numerology, the Middle East as a sentient being, the meaning of fear, oil. It's almost playful in its nature as hoax. But anything using Dean Koontz and HP Lovecraft as theoretical sources gives me joy.
Andrew Oda
Feb 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
very dense, tangled, twisty view of middle east politics and philosophy. . . has a sinister, creeping, house of leaves feeling to it. . .i'm sure a lot of it went over my head, but the stuff i could grasp was super interesting/weird/terrifying. i'm interested in reading more from the authors associated with the whole theory-fiction genre. . . : )
Aug 24, 2017 added it
umm book for white people who want to further sensationalize the mideast and the war on terror trope but its fun to read and not be taken seriously at all. this writer is a troll with too much d&g in their system
i enjoyed the first chapter mostly but the rest is entertaining at best. bye
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Reza Negarestani is an Iranian philosopher and writer, known for "pioneering the genre of 'theory-fiction' with his book" Cyclonopedia which was published in 2008. it was listed in Artforum as one of the best books of 2009. Negarestani has been a regular contributor to Collapse (journal), as well as other print and web publications such as Ctheory. On March 11, 2011, faculty from Brooklyn College ...more
“In Hidden Writing, a main plot is constructed to camouflage other plots (which can register themselves as plot holes) by overlapping them with the surface (superficially dynamic plot) or the grounded theme. In terms of such a writing, the main plot is the map or the concentration blueprint of plot holes (the other plots).” 8 likes
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