TO LIVE (& DIE) AT A DISTANCE FROM THE WORLD
Like a pre-packaged frozen lunch, “society” has come to such a pass that anything in its general proximity that isn’t utterly cretinised simply wants to be left alone. Meanwhile, social democracy, having met with unheard-of humiliations, discovers no other recourse than to demand more. Art, too, has gone the way of this ballot-box-which-is-really-a-lunchbox, while pretending it can see plainly what’s naked at the end of its fork. Except that it is what’s at the end of the fork, which it calls a critique of commodification. But it’s not that “society” doesn’t accomplish what it desires in democracy. Suspended in an open-ended teleology of the present, instant gratification is the one thing there’s no shortage of. All “society” has to do is reach out & touch the screen (to cast as many ballots as it wishes). Art is the endless replay potential of this mise-en-scene.
THE INDIVIDUAL OPERATES ON A SCHEDULE OF EVER-ACCELERATED OBSOLESCENCE
As Art becomes ever more equivalent to an aesthetics of commodification, “society” reveals itself more & more to be a hologram: not of “itself,” but of an ideal supersession. A concept hermetically integrated into its own retrospection, falling backwards into a sightless abyss. Between the idea of “capitalism as perpetual crisis management that prevents the future” (Invisible Committee) & the idea of “accelerating technological singularity” (Nick Land) there’s NO CONTRADICTION: what they describe is separated merely by parallax-effect, at the event horizon of “pure spectacle.” Here, too, lies the whole impetus of the belief that ART CAN BE ANYTHING: the totalisation of an idea that seeks to book its profits in advance &, with no further effort, claim a patent over all that is to come. From a schizoid assembly of precedents, this “Futurism-without-End” becomes the model of the “End-of-History.” Free to devolve into anything it is required to be, it proliferates pseudo-contradictions: abstract materialisms & materialist abstractions. Ideological dark matter. Aesthetic entropy holding a mirror up to the light.
ROBOTS COUNTING TO INFINITY DREAM OF SOLUBLE FISH
Everything is within the purview of ideology. The belief in the technological transformation of “society” stems from a malformed belief in an organic idea of the social (identity politics) independent of technology. It is rather a pseudo-technological thought produced in the image of ideology – which pretends to be its opposite. Ideology always seeks to appear neutral, while it consistently presents technology as the usurpation of historical teleology. Manifest destiny transforms from the idea of progress to one of technological expropriation of history itself. Technology, not ideology, “becomes” the autonomous agent of a dehumanisation (alienation) that stands as ideology’s alibi. The intensity of the individual’s defensive relation to the de-realisations practiced by the cyberneticisation of life thus prefigures its own de-realisation in the catastrophic form of collective subjectification: the subject par excellence of that most transcendental of miracles: the “End of History” – which is to say, the end of the subject-as-such. From here on, the dreamlike emancipation of the ipso facto “post-human” isn’t as paradoxical as it seems (alienation is the condition & meaning of fulfilment). It is the ego’s enlargement to the dimensions of the world, in the form of an ideal hypercommodification: ideology’s perpetual inertia-machine.
POST-HISTORY – A PARADOX WITHOUT A PARADOX
Wherever subversion assumes a meaning equivalent to that of a paradigm – as a movement of historical necessity – & becomes its own ideal signifier & transcendental signified (self-sufficient & self-determined), it becomes indistinguishable from ideology. What appears to begin under the sign of a purely autonomous movement becomes wholly subordinate to an imaginary teleology. That is, to a mythos which conceals subversion’s radical ambivalence from itself: its movement comes to replicate in a disavowed manner the ideological hysteria of precisely that which it would seek to undermine (“every consideration of ends leads back to sovereignty” [Nancy]). But the object of subversion is also its compass. For this reason subversion assumes the status of a critique only to the extent that it retains the force of ambivalence: between acte gratuit & ethical imperative. To speak of subversion as such is thus to speak of an approach to the “impossible.” In its purest sense, subversion approximates a singularity in which all laws are suspended, in which all possibilities intersect. Like a throw of dice, subversion promises to short-circuit the proprietary outcomes: an infinitesimal perturbation shaking the monkey cage. It’s for this reason, far from being the secret preserve of the downtrodden, subversion (in all its many nuances) is the principal armament of hegemonic Power.
DO NOT BE DECEIVED, THE LANGUAGE OF IDIOTS IS INDEED COMPREHENSIBLE
From the attritional labours of highest intellectual pedigree in which Tradition couches itself, humanity is instructed that “those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities” (Voltaire). Nothing, in other words, should ever be too trivial to bear – yet the world is dying of inanition, serenaded by an encircling choir of drones telling it that delusion resides in seeking more than the reality of appearance. Meanwhile, the “upward mobility” of “labour aristocracy,” matched to the illusory stratifications of a “middleclass” that is really all in the shit together, gives the appearance of consigning the “historical role of the proletariat” to an incidental & transient adolescence – a mere “generational struggle” in the face of a social decline that is universal & axiomatic. But this isn’t a route that “leads inevitably to the cemetery,” instead it is one that flows directly into Châtelet’s “vast mental latrines that the market democracies have become.”
REASON ISN’T ALL ITS SAVIOURS & SABOTEURS THINK IT IS
Behold the history of a certain madness in all its institutional candour: the absurd cult of political self-supersession, convinced that the “new” Corporate-State, prostrated before the desires of the consumer classes, is either an amusement arcade or hypermarket. But if the Corporate-State is the “natural” counterpart of the commodity, what then distinguishes its “self-supersessions” from the evanescencent performances of a “mere” signifier – as that which, in the imaginary social relation, exists solely in order for Power to be something other than a figment? In other words, for the essentially phantasmatic nature of power-relations to maintain a real distinction from that of delusion? Under the constellation of a “democracy of reason,” it is forever shoring-up its ruins against an excess of ideology & epistemological insufficiency, & by the constantly evolving subtlety of its thought still manages to keep the visible universe in check, no less. Why else does it provoke such dreams of abolition?
YOUR RANDOM THOUGHTS WERE CHOSEN FOR YOU
Is not Reason the sovereign paranoiac cannibalising at every instant its inexhaustible supply of adversaries & projecting into every available vacancy its ideal amours? And which knows no limit that can’t be turned into a reflection of itself? Like an avid voyeur behind a two-way mirror at a bohemian orgy, whole systems of irrationalism, as empirical & predictable as Sartre’s pebble on the beach, or a Surrealist parlour game, disport themselves for its pleasure. Beneath its gaze, the allure of fascist spectacle (self-alienation accumulated to such a degree as to produce in humanity the experience of its own destruction “as an aesthetic pleasure of the first order” [Benjamin]) has become the sheer banality of a “global middleclass who intend finally to enjoy the End of History” (Châtelet). Like bio-religionists gasping in a depleted atmosphere of semiotic pollution, they believe they alone have secured a future for themselves – while enjoying the fruits of their resignation.
A MIRROR DOESN’T DOUBT ITS PRECEDENCE IN THE ORDER OF THINGS
“Everything has already been done” is an idiot staring into a maelstrom through the wrong end of a telescope. Yet teleology is the image of itself that spectacle most desires. History, teleological by design, “negates” postulated causes, just as it “negates” the retrospection of means-ends, as soon as we recognise it as a commodity like any other. Which is to say, an ambivalence sutured to necessity. A necessity which represents its sole strategic orientation: that of timelessness. The dictatorship of the commodity is thus the fetishisation of present-history as the glamorised “immortality” of a moment’s seduction. It is the equivalent in politics to a permanently exercised constituent power. The socalled “End-of-History” has always been an ecumenical mask to conceal ideological struggle, whose form is that of the marriage between a continually revived myth of “democracy” & the “free market.” Its timelessness is that of a suspension of possibility, within a vicious circle of nullifying permissions: of reactionary opinion-polls, elections, referenda – for which, awash in instant remorse & disillusionment, there remains nevertheless a perversely arousable appetite.
ONLY A FOOL COMES IN PLACE OF AN IDIOT
But does a “revolutionary class” exist that doesn’t need an AI to give it instructions? In truth, the technological singularity occurred long ago. The dance-movement of drones has guided humanity’s teleological dream from the moment it (humanity) first cast a perceptible shadow underfoot & thus gave birth to “subjectivity.” That’s to say, gave birth to the image of the downtrodden. More recently, seeing itself reflected & negated in “machines,” a magical solidarity of the species has been conjured from nothing. But whether in the form of a techno-philia or -phobia, this magical solidarity amounts to the same thing: a sublimation & denial of inequalities. The meaning of cybernetics begins as the human use of human machines. By “use” we need to also understand usedness (obsolescence), as well as uselessness (compulsory unproductive labour in place of “welfare,” “leisure,” or “free time”: in other words, in place of the dignity of life). What thus poses as emancipation is in fact alienation by ever-more-refined, ever-more-invasive facets, & for which “technology” is the universal alibi.
FUTURE ESCAPE PLAN
There is no crèche for the political infancy of revolution, no trustees of future emancipation, no technological midwives of “social transformation,” no civics by convenient arrangement. Yet the question isn’t How to become everything from nothing? The question is rather, How to bring NOTHING fully into being? How to subject ideology to its own negation? All political futures are a throw of dice, where everything remains to be won. Yet the shape of the dice is like DNA. There’s no such thing as ideology in cryogenic stasis. In a hundred years they may speak of gravity-annulment as today we speak of inflation-adjustment. And humans might also have learnt to digest plastic (ideonella sakaiensis 201-F6) & to eat their own shit. And the poor may no longer have arses.
MAY DAY, 2018