Dangerous rhizomes and online extremism
: How the Internet fictions reality and why reality fictions the Internet

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


The aim of this thesis is to expand the possibilities of the literary form of Novelization beyond its existing field of cinema and popular fiction to the field of philosophy. I expand on novelization’s possibilities beyond its historic memetic purpose to develop a new research model. My focus has been on developing a new novelization framework as a research approach on the theoretical implications of accelerationism and hauntology and their migration to an online metaphorical shorthand for extremism. These two terms have migrated from their original definitions, previously hauntology was a term to describe a cultural or political persistence of haunting the present and accelerationism originally being a theoretical proposition on how intensifying capitalism at all costs would eventually lead to its collapse. My research focuses specifically on accelerationism and hauntology’s recuperation into online extremism, including the conspiracy QAnon, Neo-Reactionary’s and the alt-right.

To achieve this, I focus on an interstitial online language that creates new aesthetic outcomes that have absorbed accelerationist and hauntological philosophy into coded metaphors of communication, most notably seen with memes and GIFs. For my research my study focuses most notably on the ‘red’ and ‘black’ pill metaphors (see Definitions page 14 and Appendix 2 on pages 239-40). Additionally, I examine interstitial storytelling from social media accounts that exhibit this metaphor of communication. Furthermore, out of this analysis on extremist subcultures my practice-based research assembles methods of creating that address the role fiction plays in creating the seamless spectacle of reality and how the interstice disrupts this. To examine this, I use the cut-up writing technique, which is a method that cuts up existing sentences into new narratives, with supporting methods also including the screenplay and the film edit collage. From this I present autoethnographic analysis on how these methods are all rhizomatic in their chain of association of creating. Subsequently, the resulting outcome of using these methods to construct a novelization book develops a unique writing process to learn how the rhizomatic metaphor brings together my focus on the extremist semiotic production of extreme metaphors modelled on accelerationist discourse and hauntological aesthetics. Importantly, I show how this developed as a philosophical model from the rhizomatic book, A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia (Deleuze and Guattari 1980), which I then expand on with practice-based outcomes by applying the term, ‘assembling my fiction kit’. This is reappropriated from an essay by the political and cultural theorist Mark Fisher, titled- the assassination of J. G. Ballard (Fisher 2018). This short essay uses the work of the British 20th century author J. G. Ballard, who assembled a body of fiction which applied extreme metaphors and experimental approaches to the construction of the book. Fisher posits a question in this short essay by asking what a new kind of fiction could respond to the realities of the 21st century. I expand on what Fisher posits by analysing the cultural assemblages produced in the meme metaphors by QAnon, Neo-Reactionary’s and the alt-right.

In conclusion my thesis examines the dichotomy of the rhizome as a tension between radicalism, accelerationism and hauntology, as evidenced by the ‘pill metaphor’ reality. By expanding novelization beyond the field of Film and Literature studies into experimental writing, contemporary philosophy, and art practice using a framework of a Coda Action Research methodology of my own experience my analysis contributes new knowledge to this field of study.
Date of AwardDec 2023
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Brighton
SupervisorAmy Cunningham (Supervisor) & Paul Sermon (Supervisor)

Cite this