Region/Concept: East Asia, Desire
Sub-Concepts: Collapse, Disgrace, Extinction
Description: Individuals meet online to arrange and plan acts of collective self-destruction.

What dark concerns. Four men, three women perish of carbon monoxide inhalation in cars parked along a remote mountain highway; four others seal themselves within a room to meet a similar end at the hands of a disconnected gas stove. Are these supposed to be “uprisings” (a movement-above) or “transpirings” (a breathing-across)? More than this, what desire rests behind such recurring displays of suffocation and aerial poisoning, organized by strangers bound together only by a virtual pact (to leave the world one night)? No, they cannot be reduced to mere suicidal gestures: the phantasmatic factor of the screen/the image, alongside the medieval factor of the oath/the vow, make this an otherwise distinct orchestration of a calling-unto-death. If not suicides, then, are these well-choreographed acts based in still-broader categories of harm: “malicide” (the killing of evil), “chronocide” (the killing of time), or “famacide” (the killing of one’s reputation)? Are they agitated yet careful attempts to remove the structures of control and coercion within oneself, thus becoming an internal act of “dominicide” (the killing of a master), “regicide” (the killing of a king), “tyrannicide” (the killing of a tyrant), or “deicide” (the killing of a god)? Does the impulse extend even further than this? Could we conceive of these simultaneous self-slayings, these evacuations of the earth, with their odd mixture of loneliness and intimate alignment, as larger symbolic efforts in search of a final expiration-register: i.e. “omnicide” (the killing of the entire human race)? More clearly, are these ceremonies really just subjective enterprises, or is their mark of collectivity a sign that they are drawn forward by a yet-grander dream for the species itself: that is to say, the dream of extinction?

Jason Mohaghegh