No Driver at the Wheel

Highly recommend reading through ‘Prior Reading’ at the bottom before continuing.

 

 

No Driver at the Wheel.

 

We’re trapped in the belly of the horrible machine,

and the machine is bleeding to death

 

Godspeed You! Black Emperor, The Dead Flag Blues

A car with no driver at the wheel is very much the case for both right and left wing contemporary youth movements. With the right-wingers being sucked in and consumed by a lust for identity and individualism amongst the overwhelming progressivist pressure for all to enter into a framework of diversity, inclusion and tolerance. Whilst across the river left-wingers are willingly being absorbed into a western system of ideological language and supposed inherent moral superiority, without question of origin, evolution or history. [1]

Both of these cases however have something in common, they both lack structure. Both are too short-sighted to see beyond their immediate identity politics towards a higher goal. Neither has a programme of practicality or use beyond an ever-lasting present of which they’re fuelling. The discussion of a programme is one that many are reluctant to have, largely due to the fact that the reality of such a discussion would mean one has to exit from the comfort of meat-space’s name-calling reverberations and actually move themselves to another form of praxis.

I’m being careful here as to not signal that I find meat-space or real-physical-life synonymous with praxis, this would be a grave error. For the era of change via physical representation is long over, the viral assimilation of cyberspace into near enough every inch of day-to-day life put a stopper on physical primacy. Yet the ease of social networking, collective engagement and viral meme creation is not a move towards substance. In fact the general rate at which cyberspace moves often imposes fragmentary ideas. Ideas, theories and systems which are open, growing and developing one day and entirely closed, changed and even non-existent the next, a rate of movement which leaves the user lacking in commitment and attention for an underlying structure, often for fear of being made aesthetically redundant or seeming out of touch. This form of ‘social chaos’ is something mentioned in an interview with Nick Land for syntheticzero.net:

I’ve got a whole ankle-biting fraternity on Twitter now. I am not identifying you with them, let me make that clear from the start, but I think that their question is very much like yours. One element of it is age. Youngsters are highly tolerant of massive incendiary social chaos. – But I just don’t think you can make an ideology purely out of entropic social collapse, it’s not gonna fit together. It is not a sustainable, practically consistent process and, therefore, it’s a bad flag for acceleration. It produces a reaction that will win. All historical evidence seems to be that the party of chaos is suppressed by the party of order. – What I would say to these crazy youngsters now is, you don’t have a programme. What you’re advocating leads perversely to the exact opposite of what you say you want.

Nick Land, syntheticzero.net


Youngsters being “highly tolerant of massive incendiary social chaos” is of little choice to them, it is a tolerance of fatigue as opposed to excitable involvement. Various early youthful camps which have attempted to sway such a chaos only end up fanning the flames. For instance the Occupy movement was nothing more than a gasp of narcissism void of any ulterior motive other than to be anti-order, a movement who’s existence could only be made possible with such an order in place. One has to be tolerant of this chaos for fear of going mad, there’s little alternative other than to: Join a pre-existing faction that’s knee-deep in political malaise, feign ignorance or simply enter head-first into an overwhelming state of perpetual anger.

I am perceptive enough to understand I fall into the aforementioned ankle-biter fraternity, a fraternity I might add whose rhythms are getting increasingly more predictable. Multiple parties continuously attempting to hone in on the kernel of another’s thought, without the foresight to wonder of a conclusion or aim. Land – in the above quote – gestures, quite authoritatively, towards a possible aim, that of order. Of a programme which is strict in the knowledge of the underlying factor for previous young movement’s failings, namely: A programme which leaves the chaos at the door.

[1] In fact I’d be willing to go further and argue that the radical leftists that have been behind the scene for the past 20-30 years have simply fallen into a natural current, a current they believe to be epistemologically pure in its moral and social direction, a current that will eventually spew into a foaming sea and be swallowed whole along with its occupants, who, by this point are willing to be taken by any tide strong enough of persuasion via virtue. Any future the left – doubtfully – has is without both a driver and co-ordinates; entirely reliant on the infrastructural circuits, roads and pathways of external sponsors.

 


 

Leaving Chaos Behind

To watch a show such as The Brady Bunch, Happy Days or The Good Life in 2017 is to advocate for gun control amidst a firefight. This perspective however is glaringly obvious to us all in 2017, even those who grew up with such shows can now see through the kitsch smiles, upbeat intros and albeit ‘classical’ communal problems. The idyllic projections of everyday life may now seem frustratingly ignorant, yet it’s an ignorance of hope, as opposed to contemporary media’s reversal of such classical perspectives which is inherently toxic and degenerative.

The reverse of the romantic display is the bastard creation of producer and executive, a vision based on sales: The belief of what a dysfunctional family or life looks like, the depressing alcoholic, drug-addled teens, TV that mocks itself, satire so biting it lashes at those who are the purpose of its creation, TV of people watching TV. The viewer becomes clinically attached to cynicism, self-depreciation, and corrosive ‘edge’ – because these things are easy quasi-complexities, that help one to think that they’re getting it, that they’re above it.

We know The Brady Bunch doesn’t exist…couldn’t exist, but be damned sure, many of us wish they did, and many of us are trying to create such a world in which they can. Yet, to watch and consume the adverse is to inject vitality into a cynical-simulacrum; ‘That’s how it is in day to day life.’ you say, as you claw your eyes from the box as your overweight children sink further into the sofa, your hubby announces “It’s so true! It’s so true!”, the laugh track hits, hubby snorts, applause.

:the ability to interdict the question without attending to its subject is, when exercised, tyranny.”

I’m not going to direct this whole thing towards TV, that’d be too easy, it’s only that [2]TV was one of the primary mediums which utilized irony to the terminal degree, wherein it is no longer “Sincerity, with a motive.” once the motive has been destroyed in place of pure unalloyed, shallow consumer pleasures, you’re left with an irony that will tell you exactly what you want to hear. Once the motive of irony and active cynicism is lost it is no longer a phantom-sincerity. One of the intrinsic problems of irony and those who consistently utilize it as a means of control, is their agenda of choice is extremely difficult to identify. And as irony, not just as a cultural norm, but as a signifier of intelligence and experience becomes more prevalent, what’s really being exacerbated is not just the idea that it’s impossible to mean what you say, but in fact, it’s bad to be sincere, for this would signal one has a lust for conservatism, the old ways. A heartfelt need for a programme, for a structure; a want for something…stable.

And so the viewer is left with that which they believe has fulfilled them, but they will once again need in an hour or so, and as our attention span lessens the rate at which content will be destroyed and replaced with something holding a little more micro-toxicity, taboo and contempt for its viewer will increase. As I mentioned before – sort of – answers to these overarching questions are of course difficult, yet what seems to be the true difficulty is starting to even formulate a means to their answers, a programme or structure that bears its past failings, utilizing their mess to construct at least something.

But irony’s singularly unuseful when it comes to constructing anything to replace the hypocrisies it debunks.”

Irony here is really acting as one of the primary infectious symptoms of that which is royally fucking you: progressivism, with a large side helping of postmodernism. Let us focus on the latter, for much has been said of progressivism. I wasn’t one – at first – to entirely dismiss the benefits of post-modernism, it has quite successfully deconstructed/destroyed various forms of thought which were in part restrictive or suffocative, the problem remains that the cons of postmodernism greatly outweigh the pros – see my (old) essay here for a brief rundown of PoMo’s successes, failings and general problem of existence. But what’s the problem of postmodernism with relation to creation of a programme? This lengthy metaphor from David Foster Wallace [3] addresses some of my concerns:

 

For me, the last few years of the postmodern era have seemed a bit like the way you feel when you’re in high school and your parents go on a trip, and you throw a party. You get all your friends over and throw this wild disgusting fabulous party. For a while it’s great, free and freeing, parental authority gone and overthrown, a cat’s-away-let’s-play Dionysian revel. But then time passes and the party gets louder and louder, and you run out of drugs, and nobody’s got any money for more drugs, and things get broken and spilled, and there’s cigarette burn on the couch, and you’re the host and it’s your house too, and you gradually start wishing your parents would come back and restore some fucking order in your house. It’s not a perfect analogy, but the sense I get of my generation of writers and intellectuals or whatever is that it’s 3:00 A.M. and the couch has several burn-holes and somebody’s thrown up in the umbrella stand and we’re wishing the revel would end. The postmodern founders’ patricidal work was great, but patricide produces orphans, and no amount of revelry can make up for the fact that writers my age have been literary orphans throughout our formative years. We’re kind of wishing some parents would come back. And of course we’re uneasy about the fact that we wish they’d come back–I mean, what’s wrong with us? Are we total pussies? Is there something about authority and limits we actually need? And then the uneasiest feeling of all, as we start gradually to realize that parents in fact aren’t ever coming back–which means we’re going to have to be the parents.” – David Foster Wallace

 

Foster Wallace here was largely addressing artistic culture, or ‘liberal arts’ culture as he often called it, I’d like to stretch this metaphor to the present day and allow it to help us understand the problem of this programme. The chaos mentioned early on by Land is the party, which it seems we are currently beginning to tire of, the rate at which information is moving and memes – not just in the traditional image based sense – are flowing is reaching its limit, at least within the current systems of control, we’re at a point in which the ‘fresh takes’, ‘new memes’ or ‘hot articles’ come across as hastily sketched blueprints. We’ve seen this all before and as such we’re simply given more as a means of fulfilment as opposed to something of actual quality. And as fun as all of this has been, and as much as I’d quite like to do this again some time in the very distant future (for an allocated amount of time with parental supervision), right now I need some sleep, and I need to check my diary – and bank account – and remember where I was at, the revelling has taken too much of a toll on my house, a house which I’m only just realising the amount of effort that went into its construction, and if this house falls we’re all royally fucked. Some of the party dwellers think we should never speak to the postmodernists again and the house should be stripped of all their additions – some of which others think are actually beneficial. But wait, our parents aren’t coming back…ever, it is our duty to tell these postmodern fuckers to leave. But they won’t, so a few us retreat to a quiet room, where we make sure to never give in to postmodern revelling, we begin a micro-society or programme that focuses on life before the party mixed with contemporary technology.

 

[2] In fact TV hasn’t helped at all in the push of identity within political fringe groups: “For 360 minutes per diem, we receive unconscious reinforcement of the deep thesis that the most significant quality of truly alive persons is watchableness, and that genuine human worth is not just identical with but rooted in the phenomenon of watching.” – David Foster Wallace, E Unibus Pluram

[3] As I’ve put a large amount of David Foster Wallace references in this piece I would like to clarify a common miss-reading of his work, especially as I’m talking about irony a lot here, DFW is by no means a postmodernist, the man knew the workings and failings of PoMo fiction better than anyone. Some like to state he’s a meta-modernist, or post-irony, or new-sincerity etc. some piece of highfalutin for what we once called sincerity.

 


 

Taking the Wheel

This brings me to the abrupt end of this piece. That of gaining a programme. Or at least, in part beginning very early formations of what a programme may entail at this juncture, whether it’s too late, too early, or we’re simply too deep into the chasm of labyrinthine malaise that any programme at this point would only be a heavy manifesto in-favour of whatever other programme assimilates our minds that week. It should come as no surprise that the end of this would be a matter of pushing for coherent structures. Structures and programmes based of complex research, historical documentation and rigorous routine – hopefully. Taking the wheel of a driverless car may seem like a larger task than it actually is. You may worry that to ‘take the wheel’ is to be in the care of the other passengers; fear not, for if they don’t like your driving there’s always the option to pull over and let them out, another car will come along soon. You may ‘take the wheel’ and realise you have no map, or that no one wants to head in your direction. But let’s make one thing clear: The person who is too scared to take the wheel of a car without a driver, shouldn’t be angry nor surprised when they plummet off a cliff. So, how does one go about undoing their back-seat belt, climbing the seats and safely strapping themselves in for the ride ahead:

First – and in my mind foremost – within this new programme is sincerity of voice. To build another movement off the laughing stock of any other, is to build on sand. As fun and rebellious as Kekistan, /pol/ or calling others silly names may seem, it achieves nothing in the long run. This system of irony in which the majority are deep within eludes its users at every turn. Users of irony emit quasi-experience and seriousness via their cynicism, each and every ironic quip can better the next, for there exists no hierarchy in a world that takes nothing seriously.

Secondly, restoration of natural human enquiry: To pursue scientific endeavours and invent without restraint, to shop around between sovereignties, jurisdictions and ideologies, to engage in industrial and commercial activity with minimal state intervention.

Thirdly, fixation on the definite possibility of free exit:

“We believe that giving primacy to the right to choose one’s social contract, including creating a new one, cuts through the unresolvable tangles of determining exactly what universal human rights are and what type of society is just. As long as people voluntarily join groups, and can voluntarily leave, we have neither the right nor the need to judge the details of how those groups organize themselves and define their rights. We seek neither the right to dictate how other people should live, nor for the burden of figuring out how to make utopia, but only that each of us may live as we see fit.” – The One Universal Human Right

Fourthly, a return to dignity without hierarchic nostalgia. The roots of conservatism intend to drag from the past small, applicable, practical parcels of data which will benefit the present, yet, with them come traditions, aesthetics and ideas of old. The contemporary lusting over the ‘classical’ is a pitifully transparent gesture as best, and pathetically short-sighted at worst. One can return – in a sense – to these forms of behaviour, activity and inquiry without attending to their repetitive output.

Fifthly, attending to your own routines. Understanding something that a vast amount of the left doesn’t: No system (at least currently, or pre-singularity) is going to sort your life out. It will, may or should give/attend to the tools necessary for communal and personal success, whether or not one makes the decision and effort to take up those tools and master them is their choice. No system, at least not one I’d ever want to be part of (remember choice & exit), is going to get you out of bed everyday, provide adequate nutrients via feeding tube or make sure your laces are tied, and be sure to be wary of one that promises such things. Attending to yourself is inclusive of attending to ones own personal well-being, once more, a state, system or structure may allow for the means to ‘get better’, whether or not you or another wants to get better is personal choice; a choice that should remain strictly outside the public sphere.

1. Leave irony and cynicism at the door.

2. Allow for maximum human enquiry.

3. Exit as first priority.

4. Rhizomatic conservatism.

5. Don’t be pathetic.

 

 

Non-mandatory prior reading/viewing:

The Dark EnlightenmentNick Land

Patchwork Mencius Moldmug

E Unibus PluramDavid Foster Wallace

David Foster Wallace – The Problem With Irony

Between Irony and Sincerity – MN

5 thoughts on “No Driver at the Wheel

  1. FYI. The link to your old essay

    https://www.meta-nomad.net/post-modernism-catch-22/

    is broken.

    Also. You say “Rhizomatic conservatism.” But is that not just a type of equality? I also feel that you are talking about surface manifestations. I can trace the development of irony, cynicism, et al. to the effect of technology on culture and society. Me thinks that there is no overcoming this problem without authority. See my essay on the corrosive effects of technology on morality.

    http://theanti-puritan.blogspot.com/2016/04/the-consenting-llama.html

    1. I agree somewhat with what you’re saying, but often people see the only alternative as complete technophobio and reversion to a romantic existence. I think irony may have risen alongside this rise in technology, we no longer needed to be as sincere for our output and tasks were now menial, and away from our animal roots: survival. It’s difficult to not be ironic and cynical in a world where your job may be some mundane, life sucking repetition that is at the height of absurdity.

      Even opinionated sincerity is becoming difficult, anything other than a cynical quip, is seen as offensive, whatever it may be. So, I’d argue, that we’re seeing the same problem but with different methods of realiation. Want to stop the corrosion? Stop pouring cynical, ironic acidic with everybody else.

      Research, then say/write sincerely and clearly what it is you want to say, at all times attempting to revert from the ‘they’.

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