The letter K in Nick Land’s work

I recently encountered an array of concepts designated by the K letter and this in just a few weeks of the interval. They all deal with mathematics or physics. Most come from my reading of Nick Land’s Fanged Noumena, but not only.


When reading Land’s Fanged Noumena, you will encounter the letter K numerous times: k-space, k-coma, k-war. It’s Mark Fisher, former member of the CCRU that explains the meaning of this K.

The term k-punk came out of Ccru. ‘k’ was used as a libidinally preferable substitution for the California/ Wired captured ‘cyber’ (the word cybernetics having its origins in the Greek, Kuber). Ccru understood cyberpunk not as a (once trendy) literary genre, but as a distributive cultural tendency facilitated by new technologies. In the same way, ‘punk’ doesn’t designate a particular musical genre, but a confluence outside legitimate(d) space: fanzines were more significant than the music in that they allowed and produced a whole other mode of contagious activity which destroyed the need for centralized control.

– Mark Fisher

K is a reference to the Greek word kubernētikos, that will become the root for Cybernetics. It defines a feedback loop that can be ecological, biological, sociological, cognitive or/and social. A controller with an input and an output, where each output triggers a new entering input, aiming to the maxxing of a specific metric.


The term k-function is also used in Fanged Noumena, in the essay Cybergothic.

Count Zero rigorously formulates cybergothic interlock, condensing the digital underworld onto the black mirror. Human neural-to-infonet uploading and Loan infonet-to-neural exactly correspond as phases of a circuit, amalgamating travel and possession. In the irreducible plexion of the interchange hackerexploration = invasion, ‘K-function’. 87 It is not a matter of theorizing or dreaming about the loa, but of succumbing, or trying to run. As K-viral social meltdown crosses into its China-syndrome, self-organizing software entities begin to come at you out of the screen. Viruses drift toward the strange attractor of auto-evolution, spread, split, traffic programming segments, sexuate, compile artificial intelligences, and learn how to hunt. Voodoo on the VD.

– Nick Land, Cybergothic

In this excerpt, we can empathise on the description of an entity that self-assembles, that amalgams itself, to finally split itself into smaller parts to contaminate future hosts. This term is here not a reference to cybernetics, but rather to Deleuze and Guttari and the Kafka function.

No one is better than Kafka at differentiating the two axes of the assemblage and making them function together. On the one hand, the ship-machine, the hotel-machine, the circus-machine, the castle-machine, the court-machine, each with its own intermingled pieces, gears, processes, and bodies contained in one another or bursting out of containment (see the head bursting through the roof). On the other hand, the regime of signs or of enunciation: each regime with its incorporeal transformation, acts, death sentences and judgements, proceedings, “law”. […] On the second axis, what is compared or combined of the two aspects, what always inserts one into the other, are the sequenced or conjugated degrees of deterritorialization, and the operations of reterritorialization that stabilize the aggregate at a given moment. K., the K.-function, designates the line of flight or deterritorialization that carries away all of the assemblages but also undergoes all kinds of reterritorializations and redundancies – redundancies of childhood, village life, bureaucracy, etc.

– Deleuze and Guattari, Postulates of Linguistics, A Thousand Plateaus.

Here, the K should be interpreted as a “program” deterritorializing signs or information, to re-territorializing them in new hosts. Think about a platform like Github or NPM that takes in entry snippets of codes, processes them, and serves them to developers that would ultimately create new snippets of code from them. I am not an expert on Deleuze and Guattari and so I would recommend this article on the K-function.


Kuang is a reference to Williams Gibson’s Neuromancer. It stands for Kuang 11, a Chinese computer virus designed to break cyberspace Intrusion Countermeasures Electronics inside the Matrix.



I first saw this one on George Hotz’s Twitter (not Fanged Noumena related). Follow him, he is amazing.

If a demon erases a random-looking string, such as 𝝅, without understanding it, it commits a thermodynamically irreversible act. On the other hand, if the demon recognizes it, it can transform 𝝅 to a short string by a reversible computation.

– Introduction to K-Complexity, via @realGeorgeHotz

K-complexity stands for Kolmogorov complexity, from the name of the soviet mathematician who first published on the subject in 1963. It’s a way of measuring the complexity of things using algorithms.

Consider the following two strings of 32 lowercase letters and digits:

abababababababababababababababab , and 4c1j5b2p0cv4w1x8rx2y39umgw5q85s7

The first string has a short English-language description, namely “write ab 16 times”, which consists of 17 characters. The second one has no obvious simple description (using the same character set) other than writing down the string itself, i.e., “write 4c1j5b2p0cv4w1x8rx2y39umgw5q85s7” which has 38 characters. Hence the operation of writing the first string can be said to have “less complexity” than writing the second.

– Wikipedia

K-complexity can be abstracted as this : make a thing the most simple possible, and the most exact possible, and the length simplest program you come up with, that you will have to generate this information, will be the measure for its complexity.

Intelligence is a capacity to compress abstract knowledge without loss. It’s how intelligent people end-up with the number 𝝅 or Physics. The Hutter prize is the gamification of this principle, “which rewards data compression improvements on a specific 1 GB English text file, with the goal of encouraging research in artificial intelligence (AI).”

Note that this theory is part of the Information Theory. Information is the opposite of noise. You cannot compress noise, only information. If you read or watch content you should ask yourself : do I watch Information or do I watch noise ? My life has greatly improved since I stopped watching < 20 minutes videos on Youtube. The K-complexity theory provides a clear explanation to this : if a subject can be abstracted to a less than 8 minutes video, maybe it is not information, but its satanic version: noise.

Gematria (bonus)

In Nick Land’s essay Qabbale 101, I learn from gematria, or the practice of assigning a numerical value to a name, word or phrase by reading it as a number, or sometimes by using an alphanumerical cipher. This practice was especially popular with Hebrew and Greek, where letters of the alphabet had this double purpose of numbers and letters at the same time.

To practise gematria (or numerical kabbale), I took the word Cybernetic in Greek and translated it into numbers.

κ (kappa) = 20

υ (upsilon) = 400

β (beta) = 2

ε (epsilon) = 5

ρ (rho) = 100

ν (nu) = 50

η (eta) = 8

τ (tau) = 300

ι (iota) = 10

κ (kappa) = 20

Κυβ - Ερν - Ητικ

422 - 155 - 338

Interestingly, slipped in 3 parts, and summing each group of letters ended-up creating 3 numbers, each presenting 2 repeating digits.

More info on gematria’s wikipedia page.


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