META-NOMAD

Between Irony & Sincerity

DRAGGED FROM THE ARCHIVES SCREAMING FINALE-5:

 

BETWEEN IRONY & SINCERITY: IS IT POSSIBLE FOR AN ARTIST TO BE SINCERE IN 2017?

 

ABSTRACT

In this essay I shall be discussing whether or not it is possible for a contemporary artist to be sincere. Post-modernism has taken irony for its own, meaning it has become unstable in an artistic culture of anti-sincerity and meta-ironies. This text will also articulate that it is not solely a certain style(s) one can consider sincere. The irony that post-modernism uses has become the opposite of sincerity, a place in which it does not belong. This text shall also briefly touch upon post-modernism as a free-floating signifier and why this is toxic.

INTRODUCTION

In this essay I shall be covering what it means to be sincere within the contemporary art world, and whether or not it is still possible for an artist to be sincere, without that sincerity being irony through sincerity. I shall also make it clear that there is no correlation between style, zeitgeist and irony. Alongside discussing how post-modernism as a free floating signifier has turned irony and sincerity into opposites.

Chapter 1: Defining Irony & Sincerity

The purpose of this chapter is to articulate to you, the reader what I mean when I say irony and sincerity, to find clear definitions of each before praising or possibly denouncing either. Alongside ironies original definition this chapter will explain the specifics of stable and unstable ironies and what effect they can have on a work of art, or more importantly a work’s meaning.

Chapter 2: Is Sincerity Within the Contemporary Art World Dead?

Within this chapter I shall cover why I believe sincerity within the fine arts has not only disappeared, but is dead, or more specifically has been killed. I shall discuss which art movements I believe unwillingly helped in its death and which movements willingly watched as it passed away.

Chapter 3: The Toxicity of Post-Modernism as a Floating Signifier.

This chapter will explain why I believe the ambiguity of post-modernism has become a toxic force within the arts, especially where irony is concerned. Discussing how post-modernism has skewed original definitions which in turn create instabilities within meaning. Though post-modernism, as contained within everything is up for criticism, I shall explain how its internal-elitism protected by pretentious and pompous language almost creates a non-criticisable movement.

Chapter 4: There is no Correlation between Zeitgeist, Sincerity and Style.

This chapter shall touch upon the presumptions the reader could make from the previous chapter’s ideas on style and sincerity, and will use examples to prove that neither zeitgeist, artistic style nor sincerity have any correlation, and that more specifically no ‘certain’ style is always in-keeping with sincerity.

Chapter 5: Is it no Longer Possible for an Artist to be Sincere?

This chapter, with the foundation of the previous chapters shall now discuss in confidence, why it is I believe it’s no longer possible, or at the very least extremely unfavourable for a contemporary artist to be sincere, that is, without treading into the realms of meta-irony and being ironically sincere, thus proving post-modernism’s ambiguity has caused a troublesome Catch-22 for irony and sincerity.

CHAPTER 1: DEFINING IRONY AND SINCERITY

Irony is the song of a bird that has come to love its cage – Lewis Hyde, 1987

They say the opening sentence of any text is the most important, this being that sentence; an aggravatingly-erudite attempt at very quickly articulating to you, the reader, as to what irony is. This of course being one of two things: a sincere attempt at showing what irony is, or irony in its purest form, not just the first two sentences but this entire paragraph may be an attempt at pure-ironic-articulation of what irony is. Thus we enter into irony’s intricate workings. There is no real concise definition of what irony is, in fact if there was to be such a thing it in itself would be ironic. However this gratuitous rhetoric is of no help, so first we must deconstruct.

In that first paragraph I made it very clear to the reader that not only are they reading a text, but they are also reading the opening sentence, which is declaring that it must be the most important sentence. Now of course, this could be seen as post-modern self-awareness, the line between said awareness and irony is thinner than any metaphorical line should be. The dictionary definition of irony is:

“1. The use of words to convey a meaning that is the opposite of its literal meaning:

2. Literature.

1. A technique of indicating, as through character or plot development, an intention or attitude opposite to that which is actually or ostensibly stated.

2. (especially in contemporary writing) a manner of organizing a work so as to give full expression to contradictory or complementary impulses, attitudes, etc., especially as a means of indicating detachment from a subject, theme, or emotion.”” – (Irony, 2014)

This is what irony is, at its most basic. A definition shall never be agreed upon. This is a fact the reader must take on board, as something upon which there is no established definition can become toxic. So one must find a modus vivendi for such a situation, enter stable and unstable ironies. Named aptly for their stability and instability when addressed by more than two parties, to paraphrase from Wayne C. Booth’s A Rhetoric of Irony the four marks of a stable irony:

1. They are all intended…they are not mere openings provided unconsciously, or accidental statements.

2. They are all covert, intended to be reconstructed with meanings different from those on the surface.

3. They are all nevertheless stable, once a reconstruction has been made the reader in not then invited to undermine it with further reconstructions…unless they choose to do so on their own.

4. They are all, in some sense, local or limited. – (Booth, 1974)

From these four marks we gather that a stable irony is just that, stable, intended to be there, not intended to be found unless one is sensitive in detecting such a thing and its subject’s scope is limited. For instance: “as pleasant as a root canal” if someone was to say this to you, you would at once recognize two things, the word pleasant, and root canal, and that both are opposites, as in a root canal is not pleasant, thus…irony, a very stable irony.

For an artistic example of irony one has to look no further than Marcel Duchamp, in particular his magnum opus Fountain . There is the irony of course that a urinal is art, which has long since been discussed in intricate detail and thus I shall not bore the reader here, that however is one of the stable ironies at play here, the pre-conceived notion of what art is vs. the vulgarity of a porcelain urinal. Fountain was one of Duchamp’s ready-mades, a collection of objects he found…readymade. This is not where the irony lies however, if one is to look at the table of illustrations, more specifically Fountain, one will realise that the image of the readymade below is actually an image of a replica. In fact all the currently existing Fountains are anything but readymade, they are all replicas. This is a clear example of an irony that is stable, yet not so obvious that it erodes the soul with its banality.

So it becomes clear what a stable irony is, stable ironies however are easier to discuss due to their stability, fact is fact and fiction is messy. Unstable ironies are a more ambiguous matter, for with a stable irony ‘if you and I elect an ironic reading, we shall prove either both right or both wrong (Booth, 1974)’. With a stable irony one has a clear stopping point, I mean to say it is ironic that Duchamp’s existing ready-mades are in fact all replicas, that is a clear stable irony and thus we can either both be wrong or right about it, but to continue down the path or ironic reading would only lead to instability ‘…irony dramatizes each moment by heightening the consequences of going astray (Booth, 1974)’ e.g. the further one ventures into a separate ironic reading the further one may be from the author’s original intention, thus the irony becomes unstable. Anti-art as a whole could, arguably, be called consistently ironically-unstable due to its proclamation that it is not art; therefore it is only in their attack one can begin to consider their work

And so we move towards the calmer seas of sincerity:

1. Freedom from deceit, hypocrisy, or duplicity; probity in intention or in communicating; earnestness. (Sincerity, 2014)

The ease that is sincerity, to be sincere is to whole-heartedly mean what you say, do and present, without tricky-erudition, covert-meaning and a stable ‘image’ that is what it says it is. As simple as if a friend was to open your front door (from the inside) and tell you that it is in fact raining, thus meaning your plans are altered etc. Your friend is being sincere; whereas an ironic or post-modern friend may say something quirky like: “Boy, it sure is looking lovely outside!” (That is, this would be said ironically if it was raining.) To articulate sincerity artistically, John Constable in 1821 painted The Hay Wain a picturesque oil painting of the River Stour between Suffolk and Essex, there is within this painting no furtive brushstrokes, or elitist-clandestinity, no. This is genuinely just a painting of a scene. The image therefore becomes sincere, within its own paradigm it is the truth, and there is no hidden agenda.

IS SINCERITY DEAD WITHIN THE CONTEMPORARY ART-WORLD?

The next real literary “rebels” in this country might well emerge as some weird bunch of anti-rebels, born oglers who dare somehow to back away from ironic watching…Who treat plain old untrendy human troubles and emotions in U.S. life with reverence and conviction. – David Foster Wallace, 1993

One would be lying if they were to say that contemporary galleries today were sincere, when I speak of contemporary art I speak of artists who are currently working and have exhibitions in at least nationally recognized galleries, for some this may seem rather specific, however if one was to include all ‘contemporary’ artists one has to include local watercolour painters and the like, whose efforts are sincere (bless them), they are not however studied at an academic level or renowned for any further advancement of art.

Pre-1960’s the art-world was to a certain degree, still very sincere, yes there were occasionally pieces of significant merit which went on to become aesthetic-martyrs such as Duchamp’s Fountain or the DADA movement as a whole. Before this point the reason for a picture or a work was to sincerely articulate an idea, though sincerity and realism do not go hand in hand, one can be sincere about creating a work with an aesthetically-emotional view in mind (Monet, Van Gogh etc.). Artists such as Monet or Van Gogh however lived in entirely different times to ours, this is unarguable, the times we live in have become fractured and information has become insincere, that’s not to say the times Van Gogh lived in didn’t have their own troubles it only seems that art as a whole is at a loose end, or at least redefinition is becoming more difficult to achieve. There is no more original only refinement. Though to say ‘it’s been done before’ is just a banal platitude.

Let’s take an exhibition pre-1917; one may ask why 1917 and not 1960 as I previously stated, I would argue 1960 was when a more mainstream change to sincerity and artistic values happened, whereas 1917 is when the value changes first started happening. The exhibition in question is Lex Fauves Exhibition at Salon d’Automne (1905), one of the most famous Fauvist exhibitions, if not the Fauvist exhibition including Henri Matisse and Andre Derain to name a couple of artists, I am no expert in Fauvism, this is simply an exercise in taking a random exhibition pre-1917 and assessing its ironic or sincere merit.

The exhibition contained images alike Woman With a Hat of a Fauvist style: painterly qualities and strong colour over realism and representation, though a certain (large, in comparison to post-modernism) amount of realism remains. This, a randomly selected exhibition pre-1917 has no attachment to irony; there is no erudite reason as to why the colours are vibrant, or ironic-deconstruction of representation. One could however argue that pre-1917 there are still leaps to be made within the idea of realism and painting, and that pre-abstract art irony would not have been used gratuitously (if at all) due to basic barriers that were still yet to be crossed within the realms of taboo and aesthetics. One could say these images were some ironic rebuttal against realism, this would be rather pedantic. I would argue that the images were a sincere attempt at something other than realism, the artists are sincere in their semi-impressionist aesthetics; this of course carries across many art movements.

This chapter clearly a vague exercise in proof of the matter that post-1960’s the art world was to a certain degree still sincere, or at least sincere about its insincerity. That last sentence to some may seem rather hypocritical, sincerity however does not have to come in its purest form, only to be sincere, and that the artist is being sincere about something, this is where the new-fangled-unstable irony of post-modernism becomes entirely insincere, they are neither sincere about their insincerity or their irony, as in, they are not sincere about being ironic. Let us take another exhibition example, in this case an exhibition I feel a medium between sincerity and irony:

MOMA’s 1965 exhibition Recent Acquisitions: Assemblage (1965), the exhibition in question a collection of assemblage artworks including Pablo Picasso’s Guitar and Hannah Hӧch’s Indian Dancer, a couple of key names in art history. It is not however the art that interests me, it is what has come from the art, the theory, and one quote especially caught my eye “The question interests me, not the answer. The question is infinity; the answer, too definite…Art for me is the possibility of plurality.” (Bauermeister, 1963) With sincerity you find the definite, with irony you only work with a question, with ambiguity. There still is some sense of sincerity here however, for Bauermeister is being sincere about the plurality she is seeking. One should note that such an example begins the sway of the stability pendulum; there is no mention of irony thus-far, only a certain sincerity of being insincere, a search for the plurality, or duality of meaning. I once gain shall return to E Unibus Pluram for a quote I find favourable, yet antagonistic towards this kind of artistically favourable eruditeness: “the ability to interdict the question without attending to its subject is, when exercised, tyranny” (Foster Wallace, 1993) what I find interesting and relevant about this quote is that Foster Wallace talks of the ability to interdict the question, not actually to deconstruct a pre-existing question. Whereas Foster Wallace talks of the future where questions are created and not answered, Bauermeister is taking a question that may have once had a ‘definite’ and deconstructing to pluralize that definite, however she is acting this out with sincerity, there is no pluralism is her attempts to pluralize. 40 years later in 2005, the Paula Cooper Gallery in Chelsea, New York exhibits the works of Rudolf Stingel, the self-titled exhibition (2005) in near enough an empty [white] space, with the addition of a hyper-realistic portrait of Paula Cooper herself, who was Stingel’s dealer for more than 10 years (at that point in 2005).

“The white floor turns the gallery space into a vast immaculate expanse, which will progressively become stained and mottled under the footsteps of gallery visitors. Stingel’s floor installation transforms our perception of space and the well-known “purity” of the white cube, so ubiquitous in critical discourse on contemporary art in the last 30 years. Overlooking this blank, pristine landscape will be one photorealist painting of Paula Cooper, who has been Stingel’s dealer for more than ten years” (2005 [internet] ) An interesting combination of post-modern meta-theory and the self-awareness of the foundations which helped in the creation of that theory. There are multiple factors of interest at work within Stingel’s installation: Firstly there is the clear absence of art, bar two pieces, firstly: the space, as is said in the gallery statement will noticeably be walked on, thus the space becomes self-aware, the space that usually houses the artwork becomes the art work, a kind of meta-art wherein the foundations housing the ideology or aesthetic become their own. This very quickly causes an instability, for one without knowledge of the gallery statement the viewer may come to believe that there is just the painting and that the artist only intended for it to simply have space, and that the ‘white-space’ (Further reading: Inside the White Cube) as an idea is not part of the work, this though a possibility is pedantic and unlikely. However, once the viewer figures that the white-space is part of the work questions begin to arise which are left unanswered, are their footprints part of the work? Are they, as in the audience, as they are within the ‘space’ part of the work? (This is never a question when the gallery is simply used as means of housing and showing and not articulating the art.) Though these questions may seem interesting, there’s a definite instability here as multiple ironies exist. One could argue the artist is being sincere in their attempts to allow the space to become the work; however a counter-argument would be that Stingel is being insincere, or even ironic about that abstract-sincerity. The second piece within this installation: the painting, also implies another level of self-awareness, though not as ‘meta’ as using the actual foundations of the physical artwork as the art, it does imply the artist is using the non-physical aspects of the artworks existence and placement as the art, as in using an image of the person who in a certain way will have funded his i.e. the artist’s career and created the ability for him to exhibit within this space (i.e. Stingel’s art dealer Paula Cooper). These multiple levels of cognizant process and articulation create an instability between intentional and unintentional irony, which, if an audience member also became aware of could add another layer of confusion, Wayne C Booth once again clears up these seemingly unattached aesthetic and ideological ambiguities: “…brought to profitable terms if critics made clear which kind of contribution they are attempting…redefinition of terms…illumination of meaning…exploration of significance…the final significance of any work might be thought of as the accumulation of what all “private sensibilities” could make of it.” (Booth, 1974) One, again, could argue that post-modernism from the off cast aside ideological underpinnings and thus this exhibition is purely iconoclastic, post-modernism’s escape from the utopian-esque answers of Modernism can only be articulated and perhaps to go as far as to say proven by the manipulation of Modernist ideas, again creating an instability.

THE TOXICITY OF POST-MODERNISM AS A FREE-FLOATING SIGNIFIER

A ‘floating signifier’ is word that doesn’t point to any object, or actual agreed upon meaning, I cannot think of anything more apt than post-modernism to fit into this category; a movement which almost prides itself of not having an ideological foundation, and of its iconoclastic values, addressing the fact that its main qualms are with modernism’s ideas of a total or utopian view of the world. The only problem here is that post-modernism can only move forward by referring to those who they are ‘post’ thus, they are creating a new foundation, which is the idea of no foundation, there can never be a ‘non-foundation’ in the same way that a blank manifesto is still a manifesto. Post-modernism as a floating-signifier very quickly becomes toxic, as the term is a constant, especially within the contemporary art world, the term ‘post-modernism’ is in constant use, yet has no clear definition. Of course, no art movement worth its weight within art history could be explained within a page, however most can be explained within 1 book, post-modernism simply cannot be explained due to its lack of inherent explanation; at least the primary objectives of post-modernism cannot be explained in their relation to external movements or theories (often those that they are against). One could argue that nothing can be explained without any relation to past or adjacent ideas, this is true, however once such movements have been articulated they come into their own and are released from their burden of comparison, something which post-modernism has yet to achieve. Art without any footing begins to be interpreted in unstable ways, the lack of post-modernism’s inherent footing is due to the fact that for them to take on any foundation or ideological footing would be entirely hypocritical, thus they become stuck in a catch-22 wherein as soon as they allow a clear interpretation of their work a foundation can be constructed. Thus to call yourself a post-modernist, is only to say that you a ‘creative’ that works after-modernism.

When however the floating signifier that post-modernism is takes something for its own, such as irony, it becomes disjointed such as post-modernism is; so an irony that would have once had a footing; previously discussed by Wayne C. Booth as “…redefinition of terms…illumination of meaning…exploration of significance… the accumulation of what all “private sensibilities” could make of it” (Booth, 1974). One can almost conclude here that post-modernism creates a fragmented idea of irony in that due to its loose ideological foundations the viewer has nothing to grab onto as a reason to interpret the present irony into a stable interpretation of the whatever the pluralism is the artist is trying to address, meaning that not only is the work itself unstable, but post-modernism as a whole becomes unstable.

THERE IS NO CORRELATION BETWEEN ZEITGEIST, SINCERITY AND STYLE

Thus far in this essay, one would get the impression that there is a certain correlation between sincerity and style, wherein dated (that is dated in terms of post-modern duality of thought) romantic styles and methods e.g. realism, romanticism and expressionism to name just a few are always being sincere about their overarching idea. Pre-1930’s the use of irony or being not-sincere was scarce and un-favoured, at least in the mainstream art world. One could argue that if I was to reference this chapter, there, then the duality of meaning and self-reference of this chapter would in itself become a certain style, which is definitely not of the romantics or realists, yet this chapter is attempting to be sincere, this, just one example of how there is no correlation between sincerity and style, this is however linguistically, to look at the art world:

Within “Kosuth’s work there is not one hint of humour, or that Kosuph might be looking at the relation between aesthetics and semantics in a way which seems nonsensical, this work is working with the instability of semantics, however it is stable and sincere about that its dialogue is about that instability within semantics; the instability being that the meanings are congruent in certain semantic fields and incongruent in others, therefor this is a clear example wherein the style is unlike the previous sincere-style examples (expressionism, realism etc.) yet is still sincere.

Jack Vettriano’s The Singing Butler is actually a complex example of how style, zeitgeist and sincerity can cause confusion and instability. Vettriano is a ‘best-selling’ contemporary painter, his works can be found on calendars and cheap-mall-canvas’ alike, however what one; at least post-1930, could find intriguing about Vettriano’s work is that there is not one hint of irony, and that he isn’t even being ironic about not being ironic. Which leads one to believe that Vettriano is entirely sincere in his soft-core romanticist stencils of humans, this causes instability, because work such as Vettriano’s seem entirely out-of-place in the contemporary art ‘scene’. Many would find Vettriano’s style retrograde, a type of now-irrelevant kitsch, with a certain amount of egotistical-misogyny thrown in for good measure. Wherein Kosuth’s conceptual-style in actually being entirely sincere, it is doing so alongside an out-of-place style, that of Jack Vettriano, this is a quick exercise in mirroring two pieces of art attempting to be sincere, however their styles are worlds apart.

IS IT NO LONGER POSSIBLE FOR AN ARTIST TO BE SINCERE?

This question has many problems attached to it, firstly if an artist wants to be sincere and is working and wants to be known as working within post-modernism, they would either have to grin and bear the cringes of their friends, and the statements that no likely would be along the lines of banality, or asking if said artist was doing so ironically? Either that or they would have to make it clear they are not a post-modernist, which seems to have failed thus far. Take for instance the Stuckist movement, founded in 1999 by Billy Childish, a movement which is very opposed to conceptualism and believes only in painting, though has been known to venture to other mediums as long as they’re not conceptual. The Stuckists themselves seem stuck, it’s been made clear that what they are doing is not furthering art and is simply stuck in its place, arguably they have gained world recognition, though ironically its more for their thought and concept on the matter of conceptualism rather than their aesthetic rebuttal against it, thus their attempts at sincerity were faltered at their first hurdle, their idea has and always will be before the work, for if you weren’t creating the work knowingly sincerely then you would not be a Stuckist. Another attempt at sincerity within contemporary art comes from Andy Holden’s manifesto Maximum Irony! Maximum Sincerity (Holden, 2003) in which Holden and his peers agree we are “in an age of irony mourning for sincerity…the ironic whale that swims in the sea of post-modernism.” I find it quite apt that Holden says that the sea is not ironic but it is only a small thing swimming about within it, there is however far too many sightings of this rare whale, to the point where whale-sightings within post-modernism are getting gratuitous and just as ‘dull’ as the sincerity that remains without it.

“Let us not be ironic about our sincerity, let us be sincere about our irony. (Holden, 2003)” I do believe many artists are sincere about their irony and about the fact they are being sincere, however there are some that are ironic about their sincerity, if this is the case, at least for contemporary art does it not then become impossible for an artist to be sincere? To what it is you are trying to prove. For a statement about your sincerity would only make people question it further. Sincerity then, at least where the art world is concerned has simply become a counter-part of irony, an opposite, which is not where it belongs. If one was once again to travel down the routes of post-modernism and become self-aware and referential, once could as an audience member wonder if what it is I have written is sincere, or ironic. I have not mentioned if I want to redefine terms, or illuminate meaning or even question significance. For if I am writing this ironically it then becomes a work, if I am writing this sincerely then it is but research, what is there here to connote whether it is ironic or sincere?

CONCLUSION

In conclusion we find that if a contemporary artist wants be sincere they either find a way outside of post-modernism to say that they are being sincere. Or they become ironic about their sincerity, which to any artist genuinely wanting to creating impressionist or modernist works would be rather upsetting, wherein if an artist is to paint in an old or ‘dated’ style, such as previously mentioned contemporary romanticist Jack Vettriano, they are going to be thought of doing so ironically, thus entering themselves into a catch-22.

The one thing that it becomes impossible to do is be sincere about your sincerity, at least within the contemporary art world. Post-modernism’s scorn at retrograde styles creates a problem, wherein it is the un-idea of those works that becomes scorned at, as in, those working in a retro style are more often than not being entirely sincere, therefor it’s sincerity that becomes frowned upon and not the aesthetic step backwards. The post-modernist belief that those who are being sincere are automatically considered to be unaware and ignorant to contemporary shifts within the art-world.

REFERENCES

Booth, W.C. (1974). A Rhetoric of Irony. 2 edition. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. P5-6. P16. P23.

Foster Wallace, D (1993). E Unibus Pluram. The Review of Contemporary Fiction reprinted in A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again (2010) p81. P68. New York: Little Brown & Co.

Holden, A (2003) Maximum Irony! Maximum Sincerity, [Internet], http://www.metamodernism.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/MIMS.jpg Accessed November 2014.

Hyde, L (1987). Alcohol and Poetry: John Berryman and the Booze Talking. American Poetry Review reprinted in the Pushcart Prize anthology for 1987, Dallas: Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture.

Irony (2014) Definition of Irony [Internet] available at http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/irony Accessed November 2014

Paula Cooper Gallery, (2005) Statement on Rudolf Stingel exhibition [Internet], http://www.paulacoopergallery.com/exhibitions/26 , Accessed November 2014.

Picabia, F (Author) Lowenthal, M (Translator) (2012), I Am a Beautiful Monster: Poetry, Prose and Provocation. Massachusetts: The MIT Press

Sincerity (2014) Definition of Sincerity [Internet] available at http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/sincerity Accessed November 2014

 

Internet as Gutenberg 2.0

Utilizing the London Bridge terrorist attack (June 3rd, 2017) lead Theresa May to proposition for net regulation, a transparent scapegoat to push a regressive and potentially catastrophic call. The cracks are beginning to widen within archaic organizational forms, largely within democratic hierarchical institutions such as the UK government. Their eyes anxious in the face of political obsolescence, watching with fear as the – in their opinion – intolerable decentralized chimera that is the internet (cyberspace) exponentially grows and mutates within their supposedly air-tight system. Clawing at the last flecks of a systematic reverberation ready to break free. Unable to efficiently mould a tool they once thought would be a footnote in technological history into their antiquated party. Of course those who actually know understood May’s plan for regulation was absurd.

Even to the most amateurishly tech-literate May’s call was ludicrous and short-sighted. With a vast amount if not the majority of businesses, institutions (inclusive of State), educational facilities and personal computers using open source software, alongside a call to ban end-to-end encryption, that which keeps all manner of personal files safe would then be at the whim of any bored hacker. In short her call to make cyberspace cybersafe would in fact act in the opposite direction. The Conservatives currently bearing the 15th century Catholic torch only too awake one morning to find someone has hard-coded a theses into No 10’s door.

Something incomprehensibly large is at stake here, an event of which the only comparison resides with the invention and widespread utilization of the Gutenberg press, or printing press – the wide or wider assimilation and decentralization of the internet, cyberspace and networking (with a strong emphasis currently on the Blockchain) into society and general day-to-day life; pervasive technology at its most viral.  This motion or acceleration in its entirety could come to a country-wide not worldwide halt if net-regulation was to pass, transforming the UK into a closed network, a form of network which is incompatible with the future. Net-regulation acting historically as the Pope not banning the printing press per-say, only restricting its usage to a central body. Though by their very nature both the printing press and the internet are destined for decentralization, it is either to destroy them entirely or let them: ‘Do what thou wilt’.

“In the age of information sciences the most valuable asset is knowledge, which is a creation of human imagination and creativity. We were among the last to comprehend this truth and we will be paying for this oversight for many years to come.” – Gorbachev, George Gilder, Economic Education Bulletin, 1991

Fortunately due to the ever-increasing concentration on popularity in politics the chances of UK based net-regulation are now slim (though we do already have the Snooper’s Charter). Ironically the drop in Tory favourability is in large part due to Labour’s understanding and utilization of social media and memery in the recent election.

In short net-regulation would allow the Government – via control of Internet Service Providers (ISPs) – to regulate/control/authorize what it is the population is allowed to see, learn, watch and use. Basically the call for a severing off from the internet into a state-controlled micro-net, away from one of the last truly free ‘spaces’. Away from an internet free of state jurisdiction, kept from an immediate personal freedom the likes of which haven’t been seen since the advent of the printing press.

“It cannot survive without a captive media and educational system, which the Internet will route around. Also, its financial system is a mess and could collapse at any minute. The whole thing will be lucky if it lasts another ten years.” – UR

EFFECTS OF GUTENBERG 1.0

“He who first shortened the labor of copyists by device of movable types was disbanding hired armies, and cashiering most kings and senates, and creating a whole new democratic world: he had invented the art of printing.” – Sartor Resartus, Thomas Carlyle.

The Gutenberg press invented in the 15th century by Johannes Gutenberg is the reason you have widely available books, the reason – to an extent – you know what you know: religious texts, school textbooks, political manifestos all owe their popularity to abundance, a feat only achievable via a printing press…in some ways it’s the reason you’re reading this – the ever growing need for literary mobilization and accessibility. (Of course a lot of what you know has its inherent footing in multiple factors: tradition, family, birthplace etc. yet one can clearly see that without the press widespread literacy and ideas wouldn’t hold anywhere near the kind of depth it currently does.). And in many ways the printing press was the second largest factor in the Protestant Reformation which effected your life in an unparalleled manner.

One must however look at the pre-Gutenberg dilemmas/restrictions to truly understand its impact. A time in which texts were written by hand by copyists and scribes, meaning only a few copies of singular texts were ever produced sky-rocketing their value and thus creating a clear divide between those who could afford to be literate (the elite) and those who could not (the serfs). The serfs thus becoming reliant on a travelling scholar or mere tradition for their education which in itself holds inherent restrictive factors.

The key problem with remaining reliant of a single source as a means for knowledge/education is – of course – that your world-view is entirely bias and somewhat controlled by what the elites entitle you to know. A claustrophobic system of knowledge in which what you ‘know’ is moulded by what you’re allowed to know – one can see clear parallels here with the proposed net-regulation. A distinct system of oppression via reduction of a means to understand one’s cage, or that one is even in a cage. In relation to free speech “It is not just the right of the person who speaks to be heard, it is the right of everyone in the audience to listen and hear” (Hitch). Yet with reference to our literary travelling scholars herein lies an inherent flaw, for if one is only given one person to listen to, or a single collective, or a centralized controlled mass of outlets, then the right to listen is merely an illusion of freedom. (Think the difference between BBC, ITV and C4.). This is exactly where your freedoms lie under net-regulation. One can imagine paying a monthly fee for a ‘News Package’ for the internet, or perhaps a higher monthly fee for the ‘Advanced News Package’ etc. etc., yet at their root each package is to go through a form of vetoing process anyway so what you receive need not matter. To receive only what another wants you to receive.

‘If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don’t have to worry about answers.’ – Thomas Pynchon

I digress. Prior to the printing press the production of a text was a laborious process. As such ‘events’ such as book-burnings could truly be held as a means to control the flow of specific information, or the movement of a society of religion. Generally speaking scribes and copyists were of religious affiliation and were already under a form of print-regulation themselves, with what it was they were copying/transcribing undergoing strict authorization from the Catholic church, and as such an echo-chamber is created in which only the smallest of leaps are to be made, more than likely via the most minor of alterations to the text. So to invent the printing press was to increase literacy amongst the general public, an entire system of knowledge no longer restricted by capital gain.

“Scholars have long recognized the essential role of the press in spreading Protestant doctrine. Luther himself, in fact, claimed that the invention of printing was a gift from God to reform His church. But Eisenstein argues that print did more than spread the Protestant Reformation: in an important sense, print caused the Reformation. Without access to the printed editions of biblical texts and church fathers, and the worrisome variants on crucial dogmatic issues they contain, Luther might never have been stimulated to develop his revolutionary new theology. And without accessibility to print, Luther might never have spread his ideas not only in the Latin of the scholarly community but also in the vernacular German of the lay community.” – Robert Kingdon, “Review of The Printing Press as an Agent of Change”, Library Quarterly (1980)

It is a mystery to me how my theses, more so than my other writings,. . . were spread to so many places. They were meant exclusively for our academic circle here. . . . They were written in such a language that the common people could hardly understand them.” – Luther addressing the Pope.

The single most drastic and everlasting effect of the advent of the printing press was its utilization by Protestant Reformers in the creation and dispersion of pamphlets (Theses) which in turn pushed towards the Reformation. Which in itself has far, far wider implications than those immediatly apparent in the 16th century.

Protestantism sealed a pact with historical destiny – to all appearances defining a specifically modern global teleology – by consistently winning. Individualization of conscience – atomization – was made fate.

When considered as rigid designations, Atomization, Protestantism, Capitalism, and Modernity name exactly the same thing.

Protestantism is a self-propelling machine for incomprehensibly prolonged social disintegration, and everyone knows it.” – Nick Land, The Atomization Trap

I’ve used Land’s piece quite crassly here I have to admit, but to understate the effect of the Reformation and in turn Protestantism on contemporary society would be a grave error. As Land states: “When considered as rigid designations, Atomization, Protestantism, Capitalism, and Modernity name exactly the same thing.” so the advent of the printing press has a lot to answer for, but quite bluntly the Gutenberg Press is the catalyst for modern Democracy as we know it. The vessel which unknowingly sailed swiftly away from any & all forms of socio-political hierarchy and centralization, hierarchal structures which the certain parties often find themselves stuck within. Yet the effects of the press were not seen until 100s of years after its implementation and as such one feels as if we’re still in the wake of Gutenberg’s mutation. There exist here – in terms of the press acting as catalyst – few parallels with the internet, at least those specifically related to inherent technology. For the internet is tech-in-itself, as opposed to the press which is reliant on that which it produces and isn’t inclusive of built-in networking capabilities. The press can only become a ‘faster-horse’, it cannot transform or innovate into an engine.

INTERNET AS GUTENBERG 2.0

In 2016, 85 % of European households had access to the internet from home, as for the world see here. To ignore the prevalence of the internet is to ignore that which will be at the forefront – or more than likely will be the forefront – of the next ‘era’ of human history – in whatever multiple changing forms it holds throughout. It has assimilated into every business, official body, Government program and economic counterpart, alongside its central role in popular society (social media, smartphones, smart-TVs, etc.) It is an accelerative force within itself, growing and evolving each day, at an uncontrollable rate. Therein lies a problem for retrograde forms of government, those who want the state to remain separate from the internet. For a state to say they want to remain separate, or create a separate centralized, nation-based internet is for that state to admit that they do not understand the internet, either you have none, or you have all (and free). One could argue here that North Korea have managed to control their internet output in relation to their public, I would reply by arguing that they’re finding it difficult to control their electricity and as such I can’t imagine the percentage of North Koreans on the internet is vast.

As we’ve seen from history, the single revolutionary theses isn’t the problem (one can burn a single theses in minutes), it is the Internet’s networking (we’ll get onto networks later) ability to spread a single piece of ‘dangerous’ information quickly and efficiently, and once it’s ‘out-there’ it is near uncontrollable. The State’s attempts beyond net-publication become fruitless, for to capture, segregate or ‘ban’ the publisher is only to acknowledge that there’s something ‘out-there’ they don’t like, which urges one all the more to read it.

ACCESSIBILITY AND COST

The statistics I’ve previously linked show the rate at which in the internet is growing/expanding…is accelerating. With access to the internet becoming close to a human right (see Web Junkies for the adverse effects of this). It’s in our homes, our libraries, our schools, our jobs, our pockets etc. there is no getting away from it. In fact those who are ‘away’ from the internet nowadays often do so in a moment of Walden or McCandless-esque romanticism, as if to be away from the net is in itself some feat, like climbing Everest, or running a marathon or…deleting Facebook. Not only this but in terms of affordability there is little competition when it comes to a course of pure knowledge/entertainment, one can buy a used PC for under £100 and subscribe to a monthly line rental for less than £10 per month. One could in fact go as far as to buy a Raspberry Pi, connecting them to the net for under £100. All of this is ignoring Smartphones of course, which are slowly becoming the vast majority’s primary means of networking and communication, allowing for the ability of instantaneous updates whilst mobile. This accessibility allows for the general population – those who’ve become largely disillusioned with their Government – to be at the forefront of not a revolution but a transition:

“Revolutions are relative; if you get mugged by change, it is a revolution. If you were prepared for, or ably adapted to, the change, you may be able to call it a transition.” – Is it a transition or a revolution? – Carl H Builder.

It is of course very unlikely that just by the vast amount of accessibility, smartphones etc. that the population are adapted for a full transition. There is always the possibility of a dark-transition, in which access becomes control, those locked into a pre-monitored social system – especially one under the already passed Snooper’s Charter – are submitting prior to any technological-Reformation, they are complicit with changes either way, whether that be the emancipation of the left, or the authoritative AI control of the right.

SHORT CRYPTO HISTORY & THE BLOCKCHAIN

Before beginning any extensive extrapolation into what networks are I feel the need to ‘briefly’ explain cryptocurrency and the Blockchain, as it will be of the utmost importance in the network section, those of you already familiar with the technology feel free to skip to ‘NETWORK’, seriously, it’s dry.

In late 2008 Satoshi Nakamoto, the unknown inventor of the now very well known currency Bitcoin, announced he had developed a “Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System”, the idea of ‘digital cash’ had been around for a while, but up until Nakamoto’s development, no on had been able to create such a thing, at least not a system which avoided the ‘double-spend problem; (I’ll get to that) The most important aspect of Nakamoto’s invention however is not it being ‘cash’ but the fact it is decentralized.

Centralized systems usually have something along the lines of a central server, team, ‘bank’ or middle man to take account of all transactions, accounts and transfers etc. which in turn prevents double-spending (A given set of coins is spent in more than one transaction). This server could then be referred to if disagreements amongst users or within payments came up, the task was to create a system in which this central entity – in this case a server – wasn’t/isn’t needed. If one is to take this idea further however they realise the drastic real-world implementation, a state, economy or world without banks or state affiliated third parties, an economy in which each Blockchain is entirely its own.

So how does this work? Well money, generally, is basically a system of verification: Data-entries, numbers on a screen, proof of transaction, digits within an account etc. So, how do the databases of a cryptocurrency work?

There is a network of peers (Peer-to-peer), every peer on that network has the entire history of every single transaction on that network, and as such, the balance of every account.

Transactions

Meta gives X Bitcoin to Tim; transaction is signed by Meta’s private key; the transaction is broadcast network-wide; the transaction becomes confirmed. This confirmation is key, confirmation means the transaction is set-in-stone and becomes an irremovable part of the Blockchain (which I’ll get to). Miners confirm these transactions: Miners make it clear these transactions are legit, send them throughout the network, and help make them part of the Blockchain: for doing this ‘job’, the miners get rewarded with the currency in question.

Miners

Since the network is decentralized anyone can be a miner, there is no central authority to delegate jobs/tasks. Miners use their computers, or computer’s power to find a ‘hash’ which connects the newly mined block with its predecessor. The miner’s computers are in a certain way working out a puzzle, the difficulty of this puzzle increases with time and as such limits the amount of currency that can be created in a given amount of time. Once the puzzle is figured out the miner adds the block-mined to the blockchain and is rewarded.

 

BLOCKCHAIN

Put simply: A shared collective history of all transactions on a digital network, a copy of said history is stored on each and every user’s computer (a node), the blockchain itself and all transactions are public and can be viewed by anyone.

Cryptocurrencies are cryptographically stored. They are not secured by humans, or matter, but by maths, which does-not break. I’ll add these descriptions of the Blockchain are very dry, as for their importance and potential for ‘transition’, that will be made apparent in the ‘network’ section.

To use conventional banking as an analogy, the blockchain is like a full history of banking transactions. Bitcoin transactions are entered chronologically in a blockchain just the way bank transactions are. Blocks, meanwhile, are like individual bank statements. Based on the Bitcoin protocol, the blockchain database is shared by all nodes participating in a system. The full copy of the blockchain has records of every Bitcoin transaction ever executed. It can thus provide insight about facts like how much value belonged a particular address at any point in the past. The ever-growing size of the blockchain is considered by some to be a problem due to issues like storage and synchronization. On an average, every 10 minutes, a new block is appended to the block chain through mining. – Investopedia

By design, the blockchain is a decentralized technology. Anything that happens on it is a function of the network as a whole. Some important implications stem from this. By creating a new way to verify transactions aspects of traditional commerce could become unnecessary. Stock market trades become almost simultaneous on the blockchain, for instance — or it could make types of record keeping, like a land registry, fully public. And decentralization is already a reality. A global network of computers uses blockchain technology to jointly manage the database that records Bitcoin transactions. That is, Bitcoin is managed by its network, and not any one central authority. Decentralization means the network operates on a user-to-user (or peer-to-peer) basis. The forms of mass collaboration this makes possible are just beginning to be investigated.Blockgeeks

Note the decentralized structure below.

 

NETWORKS

Let’s first take a look at the four basic forms of organizational structure:

“1. The kinship-based tribe, as denoted by the structure of extended families, clans, and

other lineage systems;

 

2. The hierarchical institution, as exemplified by the army, the (Catholic) church, and

ultimately the bureaucratic state;

 

3. The competitive-exchange market, as symbolized by merchants and traders

responding to forces of supply and demand;

 

4. And the collaborative network, as found today in the web-like ties among some

NGOs devoted to social advocacy.” – [link]

 

[link]

The four basic organizational structures T, I, M, N: “To do well in the twenty-first century, an information-age society must embrace all four forms.”

With a tribe acting as tribal or clan type structure: kinship, blood.

Institutions: classical management structures with leaders and hierarchies.

Market: Acting in this case not as capitalism but as pure ‘exchange’

Network: All-channel network where all member are connected and can communicate with each other.

 

“For democracy to occur, the framework requires not only the addition of the forms but also a feedback of the latest form, in this instance the market, into the realm of the earlier form, e.g., the state.”

 

Below the embedded tweet I’ve transcribed Naval Ravikant’s entire thread of the importance and innovation possibility of Blockchain’s with relation to markets and organizational structures in the coming future, it may seem a bit gratuitous to transcribe it in full, however, there was nothing I felt needed cutting.

1/ Blockchains will replace networks with markets.

— Naval Ravikant (@naval) June 21, 2017

“Blockchains will replace networks with markets. Humans are the networked species. The first species to network across genetic boundaries and thus seize the world. Networks allow us to cooperate when we would otherwise go it alone. And networks allocate the fruits of our cooperation. Overlapping networks create and organize our society. Physical, digital, and mental roads connecting us all. Money is a network. Religion is a network. A corporation is a network. Roads are a network. Electricity is a network…Networks must be organized according to rules. They require Rulers to enforce these rules. Against cheaters. Networks have “network effects.” Adding a new participant increases the value of the network for all existing participants. Network effects thus create a winner-take-all dynamic. The leading network tends towards becoming the only network. And the Rulers of these networks become the most powerful people in society. Some are run by kings and priests who choose what is money and law, sacred and profane. Rule is closed to outsiders and based on power. Many are run by corporations. The social network. The search network. The phone or cable network. Closed but initially meritocratic. Some are run by elites. The university network. The medical network. The banking network. Somewhat open and somewhat meritocratic. A few are run by the mob. Democracy. The Internet. The commons. Open, but not meritocratic. And very inefficient. Dictatorships are more efficient in war than democracies. The Internet and physical commons are overloaded with abuse and spam. The 20th century created a new kind of network – market networks. Open AND meritocratic. Merit in markets is determined by a commitment of resources. The resource is money, a form of frozen and trade-able time. The market networks are titans. The credit markets. The stock markets. The commodities markets. The money markets. They break nations. Market networks work where there is a commitment of money. Otherwise they are just mob networks. The applications are limited. Until now. Blockchains are a new invention that allows meritorious participants in an open network to govern without a ruler and without money. They are merit-based, tamper-proof, open, voting systems. The meritorious are those who work to advance the network. As society gives you money for giving society what it wants, blockchains give you coins for giving the network what it wants. It’s important to note that blockchains pay in their own coin, not the common (dollar) money of financial markets. Blockchains pay in coin, but the coin just tracks the work done. And different blockchains demand different work. Bitcoin pays for securing the ledger. Ethereum pays for (executing and verifying) computation. Blockchains combine the openness of democracy and the Internet with the merit of markets. To a blockchain, merit can mean security, computation, prediction, attention, bandwidth, power, storage, distribution, content… Blockchains port the market model into places where it couldn’t go before. Blockchains’ open and merit based markets can replace networks previously run by kings, corporations, aristocracies, and mobs. It’s nonsensical to have a blockchain without a coin just like it’s nonsensical to have a market without money. It’s nonsensical to have a blockchain controlled by a sovereign, a corporation, an elite, or a mob. Blockchains give us new ways to govern networks. For banking. For voting. For search. For social media. For phone and energy grids. Networks governed without kings, priests, elites, corporations and mobs. Networks governed by anyone with merit to the network. Blockchain-based market networks will replace existing networks. Slowly, then suddenly. In one thing, then in many things. Ultimately, the nation-state is just a network (of networks). FIN/ Thank you, Satoshi Nakomoto. And to all the shoulders that Satoshi stands upon.” – (originally split into multiple tweets), Naval Ravikant.

What begins now is my reading of Ravikant’s thread. To replace networks with markets is to begin the transition, to understand that with Blockchains as pure-replacements there begins a deconstruction of hierarchy, a complete removal of third party entities involved with business and transaction. Though it begins a deconstruction of hierarchy in the traditional sense it also allows for micro-states in which a single Blockchain is taken as the network. This is reminscent, but entirely opposite to Mencius Moldbug’s Patchwork:

“as the crappy governments we inherited from history are smashed, they should be replaced by a global spiderweb of tens, even hundreds, of thousands of sovereign and independent mini-countries, each governed by its own joint-stock corporation without regard to the residents’ opinions. If residents don’t like their government, they can and should move. The design is all “exit,” no “voice…A Patchwork realm is a business – a corporation. Its capital is the patch it is sovereign over.” – Patchwork1

DISCLAIMER w/regards to Patchwork: I understand, as many did not, Moldbug’s original Patchwork within the 4 parts rested completely on government control, there was ZERO room for individual constraint, so before someone comments saying I’ve bastardized Patchwork, yes, I have, but in full knowledge of what the original meant.

 

Blockwork (short/crass):

So, really, as the crappy regressive governments who failed – as Gorbachev stated –  to understand that knowledge and data are the single most valuable currency begin to crumble, they will indeed be replaced/naturally split up (via a reversion to archaic organizational structures) by mini-states, micro-nations etc., yet each one of these would have it’s own Blockchain, it is not beyond the limits of technology (as we can clearly see) to alter rules, rights, permissions etc. therefore each countries network/market = Blockchain is their basis for government.

“First, security is a monotonic desideratum. There is no such thing as “too secure.” An encryption algorithm cannot be too strong, a fence cannot be too high, a bullet cannot be too lethal…No cop ever stole my bicycle. And this will be far more true in the Patchwork, in which realms actually compete for business on the basis of customer service.” – Patchwork1

 

More than likely beginning from the classic decentralized platform in which those who reside in said micro-nation are able to view each vote as it is counted – if that’s their chosen system -, they can view government expenditure, tax expenses, etc. Of course, one could just as easily ‘exit’ to a Zuckerberg fairy-tale UBI land wherein they’re controlled by a dictator-corp, or a fully communist Blockchain wherein equal payments are paid out regularly etc. etc. you get the picture. However, with this concept of micro-nations as underlying Blockchains comes the bringing of the past into the future, for the previous organization structure layout of T,I,M,N, becomes overwhelmed, one could if there was enough people who wanted it, begin a tribal state, or a hierarchal state with a trickle-down Blockchain, or a divine-right system wherein tokens are gifted to those with certain DNA strains…the world is your decentralized oyster after all.

One could (quite easily) argue that with the inclusion of various forms of organizational states security would become but an illusion, yet, in-keeping with the original Patchwork (I’m ready for hell on this one.) the emphasis on security as customer service alongside “exit” over voice allows for those who aren’t receiving the service they feel they deserve to leave, as a meritocracy one can in all transparency view those who have and more importantly have not worked towards the profitability (if that’s the states’ aim) of the Blockchain, one can by all rights move (exit) to a state in which their Blockchain is working, or distributed agreeably to their tastes whether that is an agenda based around: Commerce, tech-innovation, acceleration, monarchy, entertainment, energy etc. if they feel that their current states’ Blockchain isn’t distributing its resources effectively…they can leave, if its system of accumulation doesn’t meet their standards….they can leave. It allows those who feel a compulsion for ‘return’ to do so, and those who feel compelled to accelerate to do so, allowing T, I, M, N to all exist freely, together, or not at all atop a horizontal decentralized -at first – Blockchain.

 

 

I digressed…hard. The conclusion(?) will be somewhat of a ramble, I’m not sure I can piece this mess together. Though, in terms of the Gutenberg press, which is where started remember? The internet is its 2nd iteration, not physically of course, merely in terms of its accumlative effects, many of which – I hope – I’ve listed here. It’s world-wide pervasive assimilation can’t come fast enough, for it shall throw us far beyond where we ever thought we’d end up, much like in the 16th century. Those who attempt at net-regulation/control will be severing the artery of the future, with the potential for a full scale national fatality if they don’t heal the wound. Those adhering to hierarchal restrictions are free to do so – once it all comes down – yet it’s more applicable they do so within a micro-state. If you disagree with a top down hierarchal structure – the structures that work by the way- then you are free to exit, head off to grey-shirt Soylent-ville, you are free to do this. You’ll feel cheated when you’re stood in a (soylent) bread line, and the other’s stand out like a Jackson Pollock abstract hanging in Plato’s Academy.

 

 

Hyperstitional Brand Entities

HYPERSTITIONAL BRAND ENTITIES: WENDY’S IS NOT YOUR FRIEND.

 

“…the official Wendy’s Twitter account — an unexpected beacon of light in 2017 — has shown us that brands have the potential to do so much more.” – Mashable

Prior to the dawn of dark-cybernetic entities hell-bent on enslaving the human race, we are witnessing the rise of brands as entities. Abstract consumerist veils taking on personalities to shadow their inner hunger for capital. Twitter accounts controlled by workers, click-farmers and cyber-proles are becoming characters in an economic play, a production of which they have immediate control. The Wendy’s Twitter is not a beacon of light, in fact it’s the furthest from light, it is a dark accelerative force towards ‘brand as reality’.

Brands having personalities, or human characteristics is hardly a new idea: McDmconalds with it’s golden arches and – now somewhat stained – Ronald McDonald, Burger King with The King and it’s over-the-top naming devices and KFC with the Colonel. This however does continue into regular, non-sentient characteristics, such as ‘smoothness’ for body products, or ‘refreshing’ for beer etc. yet, until around 1-2 years ago, no brand had really come alive. The advent of ‘meme marketing’ will act as a potent catalyst in the accelerative process of brand hyperstition.

“hyperstitions act as catalysts, engendering further (and faster) change and subversion. Describing the effect of very real cultural anxieties about the future, hyperstitions refer to exponentially accelerating social transformations. 

Hype actually makes things happen and uses belief as a positive power. Just because it’s not ‘real’ now, doesn’t mean it won’t be real at some point in the future. And once it’s real, in a sense, it’s always been” – Hyperstition

Wendy’s Twitter ‘sass’ and ‘personality’ acted as a sharp ‘relevance’ kick for other consumer brands, it put forth the question of their position in the current economy, how are they going to act…these other personalities? For them to retaliate is to accept their existence, speak and reply, or die.

For one thing, taking on board the idea of using memes and contemporary net-culture as a means of promoting your business/brand is a risky move, there has been numerous cases where brands have attempted to utilize a meme for brand advancement, only to be laughed, retweeted and quoted out of the room by a gaggle of millennials, ready and willing at a moments notice to ridicule an intrusion into their culture; a culture which by all accounts is excessively fast paced and fragile, a repeated image can last from hours to years, a saying or piece of slang used effectively could boost sales or merely get a snigger.

But what of this decision for other brands? Brands which had existed for years as ‘established’ professionals of the economy. The question put forth was whether or not big-business wanted to descend to the level of its consumer? Would it be wise for them to mingle into the crowd they advertised to and for. There seemed to be the act of stepping down from a pedestal. Yet this is entirely untrue. In their decision to reply the brands took up the trident of temporal awakening and bent it to their will, instead of death via cultural stasis within an ever accelerating structure, the entities decided to animate and take their place at the Twitter table.

Making the decision to reply is an irreversible step, the process has begun; classic ‘2-dimensional characters’ shall be no more, they offer nothing but an immovable script (stuck at some point in the 80’s) awakened brand-entities offer a consumerist friendship, a level of trust. Instead of organising a McDonald’s birthday party for ya boy’s 5th bday, why not just DM Ronald. M. at 3am in the midst of a tick-binge; publically call The Colonel a shit-eater after he delivers you a chicken-bucket with a piece missing; riff with Wendy till the early hours because the only semblance of warmth that exists in your life is that of your laptop screen.

“capitalism incarnates hyperstitional dynamics at an unprecedented and unsurpassable level of intensity, turning mundane economic ‘speculation’ into an effective world-historical force” – Nick Land

“illusions – if people believe in them -change the course of history.” – Fernández-Armesto, Civilizations

“What makes Brown’s responses so boss is the fact that they don’t sound robotic…the team creates personalized, thought-provokingly witty responses that sound like they came from your sassy best friend.” – Mashable

That first sentence in itself is terrifying enough, “they don’t sound robotic”, not that the 8 year old pig tailed girl was ever meant to be a robot, no, only that, one is conversing with a Twitter account, something has emerged, something has become real. People will say “Did you see Wendy’s on Twitter last night…damn.” Gone are the days of brand suspicion, the days of understanding that a company isn’t there for you, it’s there for you.


Wendy’s is allowing existence of other brands: Either come alive, or die in a regressive pit of 80’s slogans and non-immediacy. Wendy’s has tapped in to the main artery of the attention economy, immediate feedback from an abstract entity via your phone; thus one could begin to really feel as if it were a friend they were simply texting. The rise of brand-entities, public discussions between The King and Ronald, a bare-knuckle meme fight in a Little Chef carpark, Hardee’s blocks Wendy’s from its feed due to public humiliation, insult after insult, ‘burn’ after ‘burn’ all accumulating in a hyperstitional consumerist brand-entity arising from the past, where it has always been, and as such finds its assimilation into human society that much easier – “Wah you mea’ man, Wendy’s alway been aroun’!”

That’s her over yonder, where she resides, Wendy, queen of the Curve. The 8 year old auburn pig-tailed cyber-behemoth, she’s been around for centuries, a neolithic brand. A faint giggle clicks off the horizon as you pull your phone from your pocket, a dozen discussions amassed in seconds upon seconds on your feed, brands, apps, old friends, dead-brands, software, bots, all discussing the news: RATS HEAD FOUND IN BURGERJOINT the title says, pun after pun, quip after quip, the discussion rotates between brands, a cyber-dopamine addled fight for retweets and likes.

Let me repeat, Wendy is not your friend, Wendy’s Twitter page is not your friend, whether or not what is or is not controlling them is witty, it’s all programmed, whether it comes in an instant or not, it is lacking authenticity in every sense. Dragging itself from economic insecurity via a deconstruction of that which surrounds it; taking hold of cyber-culture and molding it towards a malicious end. An end from which comes the customer’s demise, you’re car will be making fun of you as drive down a state-sponsored highway, the date and time blocked from view…”Where shall we eat tonight hun?”

“I don’t know darling, somewhere that hasn’t publicly called me a cunt would be nice.”

#Islandtwitter

#Islandtwitter

 

I awake on an Island.

These islands have not always been here.

 

(Photographer Unknown, Found Document, XX//)

a sentence uttered once and then forever by an assemblage of bodies, [the] alive ones, now, perpetually stuck.

One could say they were on the Island, or could say they were/are Island. And as such the ‘the’ of the ‘the Island’ is always replaced, for the ‘Island’ acts as verb, it is a physical brother of the il y a, a teasing malicious awakened presence that grows its opportunity from meaningless suffering.

[The] Island is at once with the trapped and entirely distant from them, one can never fully grow into [the] Island, a physical manifestation of trapped desires, apathetic and lonely desires included in a pure form of stasis. Island is trapped, you see, it is in stasis, within which there are dumb-movements, non-movements, their ends and beginnings are entirely worthless, and as such their journeys are the laughing-stock of the universe, fodder for a bully-God.

(The Echo-Sheds, Oil on Canvas, Malter Wacken, Xx//)

The entire idea of calendars destroyed on your silent impact. Once they begin to tinker away, the existence that once was of days ‘n weeks means nothing; once a structured time is lost it cannot be retrieved, as such, upon arrival – and thus a structured destruction of temporal-structures – one is entirely at whim to light and the absence of as a means to form a ‘time’. The sun merely a synthetic-orb powered by a cosmic news studio; time is powered by the audience’s cheers. (“Ma boy!)

“I might be doomed to lie in bed, eventually recover, and yet remain entirely ignorant of how many days, weeks, or even months had passed. It would be like losing one’s whole grip on time, like having part of one’s life irretrievably lost.” – Tom Neale.

//XX//

Man, who is a land animal, welcomes by instinct a bit of earth in the vast expanse of sea.” – Rachel Carson

Not this bit though, he will always regret welcoming this [non]-bit of land, for as long as he shall exist, which, upon setting foot upon, shall be a long, long, time.

(The Trapper(d), Malter Wacken, X//X)

XXXX//

HISTORY OF THE BIG EAR:

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[The] Island acting as an ulterior form of unconditional accelerationism, with the acceleration mutating into forms of temporal-narcissism, thus creating only a bastard form of progression; in to itself it finds no new horizons, only illusions of difference. The only acceleration is a repetition of the same which is attempting a direction towards a difference.

There’s nothing you can do here; you cannot turn left not right, and there’s nothing you can do about that fact. You are here, that’s about it, the rest, is most definitely NOT up to you.

But he was utterly alone and so terrified by the prospect of a lifetime of solitude that to preserve his sanity he had to shut his mind to reality, had to pretend there was some hope. – James Poling

 “I was a better Christian while in solitude that I ever was before or, I am afraid, ever was again” – James Poling

XX<>X

MONDAY:

 

Time-lost immediately, I know not when I fell asleep, or where; it’s grey now.

 

My bare feet come into contact with the grass, I can touch it, but I cannot feel it. Though I sense it’s touching me back. Entirely disjointed and depersonalized nothing I sense I can actually contact.

 

The beaches breach rabbit-heads from the sand, sometimes you can witness their bodies hop around in the flux-forest.

 

At all times one senses something making an attempt to seep in; the breeze carries the real, it brushes against your limbs and tingles the hairs, each goose-bump acting a micro-glitch between a nostalgic dream and the hell that is [this] Island.

 

The daily eviction happens, it’s pure-tradition and carries no weight, the walkers evict men at random, casting them into [the] Eternal Sea, they always return within the next few days, something of them lost.

 

There are these storms…that aren’t exactly…there.

 

The pier curls at the end, wood splitting, with the splinters halting immediately in the sky, frozen slices of grain, meaningless material existing for the sake of it.

 

My only memory is of laying on a bed(?), watching the night draw in, encapsulated, suffocated, asphyxiated by the feeling of non-existence; empirically focused on the pure-negation of Being, this is my only memory. — It seems the other Islanders all have something of the same.

 

Those who’ve been here a short-time – not that they know – walk miles to The Big Ear, it listens, absorbs, but never returns.

//<>//

The walkers consist of a piece of stretched raw cow-skin, with assorted hair used as sewing thread, lacing tightly between the pushed skins.

(ISLAND WALKER, XXXvxx//)

/////<>xX

A continual drone of ancient indecipherable languages is found in the winds, and howls in the breezes, peace, never.

I seem to enter into the wild pastime of the cliff, and to become a companion of the cormorants of the crows. – J. M. Synge

“Throw the baskets of soil circuit-board into the [endless] sea” he said; wonders at the command, at the authority that was thrown from the voice, and so the slaves began to throw pile upon pile of circuit-board fossils into the acidic sea, it began to burp and belch and ask for “oh-so much more tech, pleee-eeease.” it groaned. And they did not sink into the broiled depths, the chip and wire grew into a simulacrum prior to reality, a simulacrum from which reality could grow; from the strewn forgotten synthetic bastard chipsets came an Island bent backwards into and onto and of itself; the breezes glitch in, the palms rendered, the ‘fresh’ smell of the oranges a complex algorithm, the sky came in last, with a large start-up hummmmm the sun’s rays now seem crrough crrzk Real. Reality, done.

“and without a doubt the most agonising thing of all was the manner in which the island seemed so tantalisingly close, yet frustratingly never seemed to come any nearer.” – Tom Neale

The Big Short – Bureaucratic Horror

“I mean for instance, one of the hallmarks of mania is the rapid rise in complexity and the rates of fraud…” – Michael Burry

What’s the initial setup for your most basic horror film? An ordinary world, the world as a given, everything fine, normal and we as a viewer still have our nerves. Everything is as it should be. There may of course be a hero, a protagonist with which we will side, usually we shall take the side of those who we feel are more morally just. Then something goes wrong, a disturbing force, something mystical, strange, violent and absurd shall overthrow the narrative, we are given a clear warning of this, some eerie tone or a sense of unease and foreboding is given. The problem is usually solved, or fixed, the villain or sense of unease is killed/ended and those who’ve survived go on with their lives.

In this case The Big Short begins entirely in the ordinary world, we are told of Lewis Ranieri the father of mortgage-backed securities in the 70’s, we don’t know who he is, but he changed our lives, which already pushes a sense of unease, someone changed all our lives and we never knew, this is nothing unique of course, except it comes apparent later on as to why it’s a malicious global economic change. The ordinary world is short lived, we are given images from the 2008 housing crisis, people being evicted from their homes, poverty, strife, anger, worry and fear all crammed into roughly 2 minutes of news real footage. There isn’t necessarily a singular hero in this case, prior to beginning the film the audience understands that it’s about the 08’s housing crisis, so, who does one support? Who are we backing here? Who’s out hero? Potentially you could argue our ‘hero’ of sorts is the likes of Michael Burry who foresees the crisis, however, much like the rest of the films ensemble he merely uses his knowledge to profit from the crisis. Not that he, or any of the other protagonists could have done anything about it of course, to step in the way of big business is to commit career suicide, so you take what you can and leave, I guess. Perhaps the future economy is our hero? What we want to survive in an underlying sense of security in those who hold our money and safety, though the film’s general premise doesn’t bode well for this idea i.e. This has happened twice now, within a 70 year time frame. So, what kind of horror is this? A bureacratical one, constantly fluctuating with a sense of kafkaesque frustration.

Wall Street loves to use confusing terms to make you think only they can do what they do.”

Of course, this is nothing new. Look at any system in which there’s something at stake which those who know don’t want spoiled, or to have the wealth spread out amongst even more people: Bitcoin, stock markets, morgages, taxes, forex, etc. these systems are made implicitly to push people away. So already the viewer is given a new world in which the narrative is to make transparent was has for so long seemed like complete gibberish, techo-jargon explained to the layman, so we can see it for what it is, simple exploitation. We are given a world in which we’re the fish, yet the problem being, the time has passed, 2008 has passed, so we are just relieving the intricacies and underlying structure of a collective nightmare.

“You have no idea the crap people are pulling and the average person just walks around like they’re in a goddamn Enya video. They’re all getting screwed…Credit cards, pay day lenders, car financing, fees, fees, and more fees. And what do they care about? The ball game or which actress went into rehab?” – Mark Baum

 

As witty and humourous as Baum’s statement is, it’s true, it’s always been true and will forever be true, as long as we stay within the capitalist realist state we are currently within. The interesting feeling the film emanates here is that of nausea, an uncanny situation in which the horror is unfolding from both sides inwards, there’s no hero to save us, any possibility of salvation has been buried in time under stacks and stacks of paper work, maybe not, that could just be conjecture. However, the viewer now understands they are in there’s no out as this has happened, so they are just to sit and watch the horror unfold, slowly watch as the scaffolding is poked and prodded until collapse.

 

Who bets against housing?”

 

That’s the problem, complete in 4 words. Who, as in, it will never fail because everyone knows it wont. Bets, it’s a dumb gamble. Against, it’s secure. Housing, it’s housing, it’s always fine, I mean it’s housing for christ’s sake: we live in them. Everyone does it so no one questions it, The Big Short tells the story of when the mad man on the street is finally vindicated, those shouting “The End (of the economy) is Nigh!” of course no one listens, and no one will care afterwards becuase they’re too busy trying to find a new home or work out what the hell happened. Most horror movies at this point either have a clear villain win or loss: the villain either kills the victims or vice versa, that doesn’t happen here, everyone is left to deal with the remains, as if a big economic villain came in ravaged 99% of the parties involved and left without any damage to itself because it never existed in the first place. The viewer, left empty, just continues on, I don’t know how to finish this because the movie itself can only leave you with a distinct sense of dread that the walls that surround you aren’t financially secure, nothing is, it could all crumble…well, we already knew this though didn’t we.