META-NOMAD

22nd May, 2017.

 

 

 

A Micro-Zeitgeist Post of 22nd May, 2017 – (I do not agree, nor disagree with any/all of these opinions, these were merely those which struck me as important from that dreadful day.)

 

 

Link to first Tweet in thread above, whole thread in text below –

“Need to get some stuff off my chest about this attack, so bear with me.

This one feels…..different. I don’t know why or if it should but it does. Once again, innocent people are horribly maimed and murdered. Once gain, the central theme of this attack: Islamic Hatred.
Once again, a suspect “known” to police but able to freely walk the streets is able to carry out horrifying, brutal slaughter of innocent people. This time, many of them children. Many of them female children. And western feminists will either remain silent, or blame men/patriachy while ignoring the part about Islam. How long will the west fail its people, but especially its women? The Rotherham rape gangs, grooming young native British girls to be used as sex slaves. These muslims were taught that this was acceptable because western women are to be used this way. That they deserve it. That this is all they are good for. But the most heinous part is how, for some reason I can’t begin to comprehend, the govt allowed it. It failed in its primary duty to protect its citizens. It turned the other cheek and ignored every report, every desperate plea, every warning sign…all for the sake of some nebulous concept of diversity, and multiculturalism. Of tolerance, but as one-way street. They allowed uneducated, unskilled third world hordes in to their countries and never even once thought to make these invaders assimilate to their host culture. They took root, festered, and spread like a disease. Like a cancer, infecting and killing the host culture around it. And if anyone dared raise an objection, they brow-beaten, ostracized, and smacked down as “biots”, “racists”, “Islamophobes”. As if fear of Islam could somehow be irrational. Given what the west has been through. What they have experienced. What they have seen with their own eyes…their citizenry is expected to just accept this as part of daily life in the modern world, while the elites live in gated communities with private security. Not only are they expecting to live with it, they’re subtly made to feel guilty for even questioning it. Made to feel as if, to atone for the sins of their fathers of generation upon generation before them, that they DESERVE this.

And I am fucking sick of it. I’m done. I had a very hard tim sleeping last night. Worse than any of these other attacks that have recently led up to this. Maybe it’s the straw that broke the camels back, maybe its the target this time, maybe its everything, but its time to draw a line in the sand. It’s time to say “This is as far as you go. And the repercussions for your misdeeds are going to be beyond anything you could’ve imagined”. Not all muslims are terrorists. We know this. But if we’re being brutally honest, the entire islamic world is not doing enough to addres this within their own ranks. The “moderates” are simply not pulling their weight if they want to be a part of the modern world. So the “peaceful” uslims need to either get with the program, or go back to where their people come from. Because the honest truth is Islam, in its current form, is incompatible with Western Civilization. It, by and large, brings nothing of value to the table. It simply is not worth the risk to western society to allow them to coexist if they will not stand up to the radicals in their ranks. And the grovelling, simpering leftists will try to say “but…the crusades” or “but…bigotry causes this.” Unacceptable and incorrect. And to be honest, the western leftist enablers…the collaborators…who have alloed this to happen time and time and time again all while never holding Muslims to account and blaming western civilization for being the reason this happens. I absolutely, 100% mean this when I say it – you are traitors of the worst kind that history has ever seen. Your treason will not be forgotten, and at whatever the result of this is, you WILL be held accountable for it.

Until then, where do we start? It’s actually very simple:

No more unskilled, uneducated immigrants allowed entry. You have to prove your worth to be granted entrance to the west. Especially single, military aged (15-40 years old) men. Deny all entrance to that specific demographic unless they can prove they would be an invaluable contribution to society. Next, Muslims no longer receive special protection and get treated like everyone else. Held to the same standards. This means in the UK, radical islamic preaching is hate speech and you jail people for it just as easily as you would jail the 60 year old Briton for a “mean” tweet. “Islamophobia” is no longer a thing. Not an excuse to shield their bigotry. Islam will adapt to western rules, western ideals, or it will be sent back to muslim lands. One of the most effective measures that the entire continent of Europe could take would be to deny welfare/social benefits to all non-citizens. This would quickly stem the tide of econmoic migrants that bring nothing of value to European countries and leech off taxpaying Europeans. Next, all war refugees are only granted temporary asylum and will have to move back eventually if they can’t prove they would be an invaluable contribution to the western world. No more tolerance of the regressive triats of Islam. female genital mutilation, Sharia, full-veiled niqab/hijab, etc – all must be publicly denounced upon entry and violation of any will result in immediate deportation without appeal. If Islam wants to cohabitate with the west, it will bend the knee to Western Culture, or it will not be admitted. Any leftists who fight against this should be exiled as well. Our very culture is at stake here. We are under attack. we are at war. It’s time to take the gloves off and fight back /end.” – Wrongthink Warlord


” Here’s why I think the term “Islamophobia is justified – Many people who hate/fear Muslims can’t decide if it’s because they’re terrorists, rapists, freedom-haters, or pedophiles. The hysteria and catastrophizing, plus the shifting justifications (fear of terrorism vs. fear of pedophilia), suggest irrational fear. The fact that the horror and outrage is global (it’s directed as “Muslims” or “Islam”) while the details shift (terrorism vs. rape) reminds me of the visceral negative reactions people have to taboos like incest and cannibalism. We just hate and fear these things and are willing to shift justfication for those feelings the instant one is removed. None of this has any bearing whatsoever on whether Islam’s doctrines are ethical or sound. If the term “Islamophobia” is genuinely used to silence critixism of Islam (I’m a little skeptical but I’m sure it sometimes happens) then I agree that’s bad. But it’s clear to me that much of the prejudice against Muslims and Islam is more like an animal instinct that a rational critique. When you’re going on about “hordes”, “swarms” of rapist pedophile terrorist arsonist abusers, I get the impression that your objections are not based on a close reading of the Quran but something more primitive and raw. A phobia.” – ContraPoints


 

 


“friend talking about ISIS beheadin univ profs in Philippines: “will this become civil war there?”

me: “this is World War III”

WWIII began on 9/11/2001

It will probably take another 30-70 years to end.

The three conbatants are: US, PRC, Islam.

I expect at LEAST two of those combatants to be destroyed or fundamnetally restructured by the war.

So far the roles match up w WWII

Islam – Nazi Germany

US – Soviet Union

PRC – US

PRC is wisely sitting out the war. Let their two enemies soften each other us.

Just as US has an ocean to keep it safe from Hitler.

PRC has an iron fist in an also-iron glove, which can (mostly) keep it safe from domestic Islam.

US is fighting like Stalin – blinded by ideology we fight like idiots.

Him: purge officers!

Us: don’t bomb fuel tricks bc environment!

Like the Soviets, we are suffering massive (avoidable) losses becuase of out stupidity.

Stalin lost territory and lives.

So do we.

Europe is playing the role of France.

It’s rolling over, whimpering “don’t hurt me”, and giving up its J̶e̶w̶s̶ young girls.

I expect that WWIII will end like WWII did:

USA (now PRC): winning, controlling world.

USSR (now USA): #2 winner, totalitarian, terrible.

Islam: bombed into rubble, occupied, turned into PRC vassal state.

Result will be not dissimilar to the map from the Draka series.

US will control Western Hemisphere. PRC gets Africa, ME, Asia.” – ClarkHat


There’s only on way Britain should respond to attacks such as Manchester. That is by carrying on exactly as before. – The Independent


Islamic State: “Approximately 100 Crusaders Killed and Wounded by Explosive Devices Detonated in Manchester” – Jihadwatch

Britain 27 Sha’ban 1438

With Allah’s grace and support, a soldier of the Khilafah managed to place explosive devices in the midst of the gatherings of the Crusaders in the British city of Manchester, in revenge for Allah’s religion, in an endeavor to terrorize the mushrikin [those who worship others besides Allah], and in response to their transgressions against the lands of the Muslims. The explosive devices were detonated in the shameless concert arena, resulting in 30 Crusaders being killed and 70 others being wounded. And what comes next will be more severe on the worshipers of the Cross and their allies, by Allah’s permission. And all praiseis [sic] due to Allah, Lord of the creation.

“Crusaders.” Most of the people at that Ariana Grande concert probably had no idea what a Crusader was. Those who did were sure that they were racist bigots who carried out acts of imperialist aggression against peaceful Muslims. “Crusaders.” This is not a war between jihadis and Crusaders. This is a war between jihadis and ignorant, complacent sitting ducks who have been willfully and criminally misled by the political and media elites


Reddit’s ‘live feed’ of links as the vent went down – here.


Muslim community worker warned officers about Manchester bomber five years ago – The Metro


 

I’m going to leave it there, I’m trying to remain unbias here, though I imagine it may come across as leaning towards one side, though I believe much of what I’ve linked can be viewed from either perspective. As for how I personally feel, well, simply exhausted and depersonalized. Whether or not one feels either the ‘left’ or ‘right’ answers to the problem will work, the fact remains that some innocent people were killed, as an act of terrorism…in the year 2017, and day in day out, even though not physically, these attacks seem and feel to get closer to closer to something which I hold dear, and that, I cannot entirely describe. The end of something and the beginning of a sludge. It feels as if innovation has no home anymore, the means to gain are only to steal and destroy, deconstruction holds itself very dear to everything, all begins to depersonalize as enjoyment and youth itself is attacked, one often feels guilty for smirking. I’m getting sickly-sentimental, but, it truly is a matter of fatigue, one could head to any reliable news source on any given day and find an ‘attack’ from sombody towards an-Other, people killing others as they know it’s right. Progression itself has become a toxic force for its direct opposite.

Postmodernism: A catch-22

DRAGGED FROM THE ARCHIVES SCREAMING 4:

Postmodernism: A Catch-22
The Ambiguity of a Movement’s Existence.

“There still exists among ourselves an activity which on the technical plane gives us quite a good understanding of what a science we prefer to call ‘prior’ rather than ‘primitive’, could have been on the plane of speculation. This is what is commonly called ‘bricolage’ in French. In its old sense the verb ‘bricoler’ applied to ball games and billiards, to hunting, shooting and riding. It was however always used with reference to some extraneous movement: a ball rebounding, a dog straying or a horse swerving from its direct course to avoid an obstacle. And in our own time the ‘bricoleur’ is still someone who works with his hands and uses devious means compared to those of a craftsman. The characteristic feature of mythical thought is that it expresses itself by means of a heterogeneous repertoire which, even if extensive, is nevertheless limited. It has to use this repertoire, however, whatever the task in hand because it has nothing else at its disposal.”i (Levi Strauss, C, 1969)

To begin an essay with such a vast quote is quite a strident move, however, to begin an essay with a self-reference to one’s attitude towards what is being read is perhaps, excessively postmodern. The first quote by Claude Levi-Strauss in reference to bricolage, using what one has at their disposal to create, this quote not only reflects why postmodernism cannot be, but it also reflects the efforts of this text in terms of its own postmodern efforts.

“Hell hath no fury like a coolly received postmodernist.”1 (Foster Wallace, D, 1989)

The mundane, the everyday and the quietly trendy, a few words one could throw into the realm of describing the postmodern, at least within the arts. Ever since modernism drew its last supposedly smoke free breaths in the late 80’s, the contemporary art and literary scenes have become gratuitously ambiguous. Art and writing have become quiet and grey, where the two worlds used to throw punches, there remains a soggy-eyed puppy willingly accepting his fate of self-congratulatory beatings.

“The Postmodernists’ tyranny wears people down by boredom and semi-literate prose.”2(Hitchens, C, s2002)

Now you, that is, the reader, may call me a hypocrite. As I shall take on-board some postmodern style and refer directly to this essay, within this essay (I will add, this newly-found self-awareness is often falsely erudite). The two quotes, the first a quip from the American novelist David Foster Wallace. The second, a concise criticism from the English-born journalist Christopher Hitchens. The irony here taking on itself, so much so that you might even call this essay postmodern. But I believe the two quotes articulate the unnecessary post-modern struggle rather well. Foster Wallace, some would say, was a postmodernist, his magnum-opus Infinite Jest is often cited in Top 10 Post-Modern Novels etc.345. With this knowledge one can create a neat overview of the postmodern artist as work, several levels of self-awareness that amount to sincerity through irony. Hitchens, on the other hand, I would personally state was a romantic militant, preaching Wodehouse over Pynchon, Otto Dix over Jackson Pollock and Johnny Walker Black Label over a chai-latte. The battle between Hitchens and Foster Wallace for me is the battle between pre & postmodernity.

What does it mean to be a postmodernist? It means a lack of totality, deconstruction and directing one’s attention to the crowd in front of the Mona Lisa, rather than at the object (spectacle) itself. Postmodern architecture is the dismissal of the utopia, the acceptance of reality, avant-garde-realists that are disgusted by anything ornamental. In postmodern literature irony is the king, or the pale king. The ability to say something and mean something entirely different. This can be achieved in either as many words as possible (maximalism) or, as few words as possible (minimalism). The inclusion of humor, especially black, dark or gallows humour is favoured. References within references, self-awareness and breaking the fourth wall are all aspects of postmodern literature. In film, key figures such as David Lynch or Spike Jonze dictate the viewer’s concentration through askew sound production, or experimental camera angles. The focus turns to objects, scenes and characters rather than to a narrative of ‘beginning-middle-end’. Finally, we move to the flippant area of postmodern art. Contemporary art has become a little whorish where postmodernity is concerned, borrowing from each and every medium. Using irony and self-awareness, inclusion of the audience as the art, de-construction, black humour, lack of narrative and the questioning of everything-that-ever-was-ever. I present these characteristics to you neither as a good, nor bad light, they simply are. I for one believe the ‘postmodernists’ have created some respectable and interesting works, which constantly push boundaries and ideas to their utmost limits. From the above one could create a good idea of what postmodernism is. But what it is, is a lot of things, there’s no manifesto, nor is there any general consensus of what post-modernism can or cannot be. This is where my argument lies, in whether or not postmodernism actually ever was. And if it…was, is it dead?

So where did all this conjecture, ambiguity and beating-around-the-bush come from? Postmodernism’s roots are firmly attached to the act of rebellion. Rebellion against archaic and dated ideals, postmodernists attempted to free themselves from the shackles of those who believed in totality and utopia, e.g. the modernists. There is however no doubt that postmodernism was born in the west, born from the ashes of failed ideologies and movement’s. Ideologies that were finally starting to show cracks after years of ‘booms’ and ‘rushes’, especially capitalism, which, to their dismay, Modernists will never be able to shrug off. The ideology that found its way alongside modernism was 20th century western capitalism, and what came with it was an unquestioned masculinity and arrogance, never before were things looking in to, only looked at. Things were only constructed and created, never de-constructed, not even psychologically. For at least 50 years, the only time one could see was that of the future, we never looked back, not until we absolutely had to. Until, finally, democracy stood, at least in part, true to itself, allowing us to, or so we think, genuinely question the foundations of what is. Through this examination, we found that we are living within regime whose birth parents are capitalism and totalitarianism, but as all children do, the regime went on its own for a while, then eventually, also as all children do, became a physically different reproduction of its parents. For artists, creatives and intellectuals this became a dilemma. For to create works as they were previously, masculine, with a clear accepted narrative and buying into the idea of the grandeur-gesture, would be to buy back into modernism, which if one is to look around oneself, one can see has failed. However, to create works pre-modernism, would only be to either fuel a new form of modernism, or to simply buy into another failed ideology.

So, postmodernism is ideological, artistic and intellectual purgatory, where one cannot create without questioning the what, why, where and when of why they are creating. Leading to a mass of complicated, arrogantly erudite, rhetorically correct information, whose roots could neither live in the desert where no trees can grow, nor could they live next to trees without themselves becoming one. This, however isn’t the only reason post-modernism, as a whole, is a catch-22 (A situation in which a desired outcome or solution is impossible to attain because of a set of inherently illogical rules or conditions.). In this case the rules which are stopping postmodernism from coming into its own, are those abided by modernists. Narrative, structure, illusion of a reality that isn’t, escapism without reference to the escape, totality, the ‘epic’, ordered structure, chronology and ideology all have to be voided for postmodernism to be pure. However, it cannot be pure, because pure is an idea set forth in modernity, in relation to utopia’s and perfection, which to the postmodernists do not exist.

I am going to argue that postmodernism cannot exist. Before I argue this, I have to clarify my stance on modernism. I understand where modernism derives from, that it is not an enemy of post-modernism, nor is it a friend; it is something that did not want to be aligned with, alongside something for it to react against. Though, arguably, to react against something is to include that thing as a ‘born-from’, e.g. without modernism post-modernism wouldn’t be. In arguing that post-modernism does not exist, I am not arguing that modernism is the only other alternative. I shall, join my ‘post-modernist’ friends in being self-ware just one second, I am from a capitalist [so-called]democracy. A regime in which I am comfortable and extremely content with the freedoms and safety that I have. I have yet to decide personally whether or not I would, or would not change it. Many would argue that capitalism has given me a false comfort of economy over emotion, this I would in part agree with. Capitalism, where art is concerned at least, has the arrogance of a casino’s architecture, its efforts go towards convincing you there is no other way, and there is no outside….”So why not just stay, have a few games and enjoy yourself?” it’s all rather hucksterish.

My argument against postmodernism is postmodernism as it is. Postmodernists cannot have a totality, a system, a hierarchy, a structure. A narrative, a common voice which explains the over & underlying efforts of the group. This absence of totality leaves only one thing to hold together post-modernism, the name…post-modernism. What does this name mean exactly? Post, as in, post-game, post-McCarthy or post-impressionism. Post as-in after. After the game, after the McCarthy era or after impressionism. Postmodernism, is what came after modernism. Scepticism & reluctance to join an actual ‘ism’ or movement, due to the sudden realisation of repetitive failures. And so, art came into its own again. But since within a capitalist system everything needs to be, or to have a name, or structured or engineered or categorized, postmodernism became the name of a movement that never intended to be. The problem with the movement’s name is its vagueness, postmodernism is literally everything that’s come after modernism that hasn’t assigned itself another current movement (yellowism, meta-modernism etc.) It’s inescapable as it’s a period in time that the artist finds themselves within. So when someone asks you “What’s postmodernism?” reply, “You mean, after-modernism, or after modernism.”

Postmodernism is a movement, or non-movement to have sympathy for. It’s a movement that’s been left out in the rain and instead of plucking the courage to knock on a door, simply makes art about feeling sorry for itself. But who can blame it? It’s stuck between not being able to make concise work that buys into a specfic failed framework, yet still wants to make a point. And so, has to make the viewer aware of all of this, whilst simultaneously creating something that holds attention. The problem being, most post-modern art falls flat by this point. Either there’s a certain skill & talent involved which coincides with modernism’s grandeur statements. Or, all is conceptual and to be second-guessed, irony over flavour. Not being able to Create, with a capital C because to do that would mean to ‘sell-out’ to the system that created the whole notion of ‘selling-out’. Yet, to create to simply let people know you are creating is to whisper the words “I am whispering.”

Postmodernism is caught between ideology and non-existence.

And so you see for postmodernism to exist it has to use, borrow and take from its utopian predecessor Modernism. For this essay to work is has to borrow from the thing it is attempting to question and disprove, much like postmodernism cannot be without its semantic latter Modernism. An essay arguing postmodernism’s ambiguity will/was/is its downfall, or evidence of its absence, cannot work without didactic, ironic usage of postmodernism’s own devices. A postmodern bricolage.

Pleasantville: Knocked from Stasis

The residents of the town Pleasantville are within a TV show called Pleasantville, which our two protagonists, David and Jennifer, find themselves thrown into. A town & TV show which is of 50’s attitudes, whereas our protags are from the 2000s (it seems.)

Thus the town acts as a place of temporal-stasis, a pure-linearity, a linearity which is temporal and spatial, as its main street curves in a loop onto itself. Only that which has been written of the show can happen: A basketball will always go through the hoop, things are done in order, etc. etc. Yet once our two protags are thrown into the town, they act as malicious agents, though not on purpose, anything they alter brings consequences, a quasi-chaos theory within a smaller universe (the town of Pleasantville).

The subtle changes to the Universe remove the ‘written’ characters from their existential script, the one in which they meaning. Once the characters, acting as extras to the universe, NPCs if you will, realise they can do things outside of the written order, their world begins to deconstruct in both negative and positive ways. The sexually repressive attitudes of the 50’s: handholding, kissing at ‘Lover’s Lake’ etc. are cast aside for full-blown MTV-style lovin’, in fact this sparks a conersation in which Jennifer, who’s in her early 20’s, has to explain what sex is to her 50’s mother, the style begins to evolve into a Greaser care-free style, and that which becomes altered in the ‘meant-to-be-black-and-white world’ begins to appear in colour. Yet, certain characters who realise that they can act off script begin to question the ‘point’ of their existence, for if the chef at the diner can put the lettuce on the burgers before the cheese then his entire world is altered, he begins to question. The questioning acts in certain ways in accordance with Artificially Intelligent learning, exponential growth of knowledge: The chef realises he can place lettuce before cheese, and quickly learns he could go just not make a burger at all, or even not go to work. Thus the protagonists act as agents within a linearity, both wielding the possibility to knock existent-zombies from their unconscious statis.

Chef: What’s the point bud?

David: You make hamburgers, that is the point.

Chef: It’s always the same…

David: Look, you can’t always like what you do, sometimes you just gotta do it because it’s your job, and even if you don’t like it you just gotta do it anyway.

Chef: Why?

David:…I think that you should try not to think about that anymore.

(Note: Some filler from the conversation is cut here.)

Anything authentic, which in this case is that which is not-of-this-world begins to take on actual colour, as opposed to the black-and-white 50’s TV aesthetic. These acts of complete authenticy eventually begin to, in small ways, destroy the world, causing a tree to self-combust into flame: flame, which, as something not used within the actual TV program should not…be. Leaving the firefighters in awe of flame and actually using their equipment for its use for once, in Heideggerian terms this act is for the firefighters to take that which is present-at-hand and utilize it, transform it, into the ready-to-hand. This acts leads the in-Pleasantville characters to question the ‘outside’ of Pleasantville. The books which were previously blank, begin to become filled in via the protags memory of them, thus the characters begin to read that which they never should have, they begin to shed their black and white shells and become conscious of the metaphysical colour. Many of them become, especially the older generation of extreme 50’s conservative values, become self-conscious of the colour; self-conscious of their enjoyment of the culturally transgressive, and as such, paint themselves back to black and white, to cover their new found ‘cultural-outside’.

One scene in particular, though a little romantic, is incredible in terms of a metaphor for political and cultural escape. The chef is given a book on Art to flick through, as he enjoys painting, the process of him viewing beautiful works of Art is literally euphoric. Yet, he still cannot see ‘colours’.

Chef: “Where am I gonna see colours like that. Must be awful lucky to see colours like that, I bet they don’t know how lucky they are.”

An erudite comment on existentialism and the perspective of the artist.

Among other things, the film has a reasonably transparent criticism of the patriachy, in which William H Macy’s archtypal father character, continues to ask where his dinner is when he arrives home from work. It’s not on the table, as his wife is out expressing herself, enjoying her own life outside of the linear. He explains this to his group of pals:

There was no dinner.”

“*GASPS*”

“If George here doesn’t get his dinner, anyone of us could be next.”

A questioning of values begins from the older conservative townsfolk. They believe it will just “Go away.”, yet of course those who’ve experience the colour do not want it to go away, there begins a questioning, largely from the women at first, starting with George’s wife, who realises she can do what she wants.

And so begins the films comment of black segregation in America in the 50’s. People begin to display ‘No Coloureds’ signs and talk of seperating the pleasant (black and white) from the unpleasant (coloureds), the comment itself is a little weak. And so begins violence towards ‘coloureds’, violence, which up until now has not been part of their world, they are as of yet, to see blood.

The film roughly follows the linear history of black segregation politics in American, finishing in David and Chef painting a large mural on the side of the Police Office, showing the rise of the colour and the change.

It is a film of political, cultural and existential apathy. Directing its artistic sensibilities towards the absurd nature of those who find themselves in multiple forms of stasis, towards those who are stuck.

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.

Virtual Reality – Thoughts

“So look as the internet grows in the next, 10, 25 years and virtual reality pornography becomes a reality…we’re going to have to develop some real technology inside our guts to turn off pure, unalloyed pleasure” – David Foster Wallace, Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself, 2009, (talking in 1996)

Foster Wallace talking to David Lipsky in 1996 at the end of the tour for his magnum opus Infinite Jest; which itself had a lot to say about the dangers of entertainment and ‘unalloyed’ addiction. I find it quite ironic however that he mentions it is we who are going to have to develop the technology, that’s if the current rate of technological advancement continues, which it most likely will. And I do truly hope that when technology does reach the point of pure unadulterated escapism we don’t all fall into some hidden evolutionary state of hedonism.

I am commenting on virtual reality, on the Oculus Rift, on the possibility of Ernest Cline’s OASIS from Ready Player One becoming a literal reality. One might add that Cline’s naming of RPO’s virtual reality system (OASIS) is rather poignant. I’ve picked two reasonably contemporary examples of virtual reality there, however the idea of virtual reality has been around since the 1930’s and has become a common topic of speculative and science fiction, perhaps because of the noticeable possibility that it may, or has perhaps, already become a reality, it is yet to become a reality as far expanding as that of popular sci-fi novels, though we’re not far off.

I’m not trying to tackle this issue from a romanticist perspective, I played plenty of video games in my youth and still do, they’re a new art form and an extremely unique/expressive form of media, as is literature, film etc. In fact, video games in terms of virtual reality is not my particular area of interest, as virtual reality in terms of video games only works to heighten something and not become something on its own, as in, it’s only to be used as a tool to make a game more interactive and interesting, and not to replace a notion or idea.

This is where the troubles begin, as Foster Wallace mentions the idea of virtual reality pornography, the idea that one could return from their mundane tax official, eight hour a day job and plug themselves into their ultimate fantasy, every day. Virtual reality pornography replaces an arguably vital part of human life, which is to emotionally connect with other human beings, have meaningful physical and emotional contact. You could argue that within a virtual reality system that is literally life-like and 3000FPS and perfect in every way could replicate this, however I have faith in uncanny valley to prove this wrong (Uncanny valley is a hypothesis in the field of aesthetics which holds that when features look and move almost, but not exactly, like natural beings, it causes a response of revulsion among some observers.) I would argue that however advanced we get in terms of virtual realities, there will always be something within us that will be able to tell a simulation apart from a ‘real’ human; we’re not going to get into what is and isn’t real here as it’s not particularly apparent within this essay. Virtual reality pornography possibilities could include making love/fucking as many women/men as you like, whomever you like (celebrities etc.) all kinds of gadgets and gizmos to reflect said person’s ‘junk’ are all within the realms of possibility. Let’s not forget that it’s often porn companies that pioneer new technology (See: Internet).

This is all very well and easy to address, the fact that humans currently have a pre-occupation with escaping the reality before them, as the fact is, we have more information in our hands than ever before (of course) and it’s all readily available and easy and kind-of ‘done’ in a lot of people’s minds, so what’s more is another reality altogether, these aren’t always unhealthy, and someone who is literally stuck within a mundane 9-to-5 job because, well, that has to happen to the majority of westerners living within a capitalist society, that’s just the way it is. One thing such a society hasn’t removed however is human’s ability to think and feel and love, and perhaps the danger of contemporary virtual realities, which could easily become as accessible as the internet, is that they would destroy the remaining remnants of anything sincere and homely and emotional. Everything would become static and materialistic, beyond what is already apparent.

There is of course the potential for these developments to awaken us into a new state of emotion, in which due to the sudden accessibility of our wildest sexual and emotional desires we become mentally saturated too quickly, as if we were to win the lottery…every day. Not only would one become bored extremely quickly, they would (hopefully) come to the conclusion that there is more to life than money, or explicit perpetual sexual desire and perhaps what’s missing is a touch of emotion and good ol’ human awkward interaction. This may become a surprising afterthought of virtual reality, as for a long time people will become engrossed and addicted, in the way that within contemporary society children now have access to technology from a much younger age, something I would argue is pretty unhealthy in terms of development, due to the un-strenuousness of it all, everything is there for them immediately, a certain materialistic and cultural solipsism. I’m no technophobe, who’s saying that children shouldn’t learn to use technology that will definitely be present in their later life, however they shouldn’t become dependent on it as a form of actually being alive. It should be a secondary to real life.

And John arrives home from work, 5PM, his visor with him at all times (work permits him to access HAVEN on his lunch break, John is one of the few humans who still commutes). He puts on his visor and enters into his premade virtual reality, he’s set it so his house looks like the house from Animal House, except not as dirty, this is achieved by a very easy to use ‘dirty-ness’ slider. In reality John is walking into a 10’ by 10’ box room is an apartment complex with a floor that is made from multiple treadmill like conveyors so he can run and move as far as he wishes in any direction; his bed comes down from the roof electronically when needed. So he enters into some battlezones, and fantasy worlds, and space battles, and becomes president, and wins his loves. This happens nightly, or weekly dependant on the way he sets up the contraction, this is all up to him, and if he fails it is only because he set that as a possibility. And so the bed comes down the ceiling, John selects the NSFW option from the menu and a flesh-like vacuum comes out from the end of the bed, this is John’s stimulation device and so he selects whomever he likes and gets on with his night. He wakes up, visor on until he arrives at work, the visor is then set to work settings as he enters the building.

Ivan’s Childhood

“War is no place for children.”

 

Ivan’s Childhood sits as a blueprint for Tarkovsky’s career, with an idea towards accessible spirituality and metaphysics, towards the il y a and dread of existence. One strikes one foremost, as with any Tarkosky film is the imagery, a sublime mixture of intensly humane images, contrasted with striking, quasi-abstract death-imagery.

Ivan, a 12 year old Russian boy, whose family, we learn, has been killed. He had joined a partisan group and had attempted to cross the front line into Soviet territory. He is captured by the Soviets and installed into the war effort, his small physique and swiftness his beneficial attributes. A stoic and contrarian boy, a boy pushed temporally into the realm of man prematurely, allowed access into a chaotic masculine space before one should be. His attitude allows him to fit in.

Ivan’s dreams are interspersed througout the film, the viewers gut directed towards near overdrive as one forgets Ivan’s childhood, accepting the film’s plot as truth-of-the-matter, normality forgotten, for peace cannot exist in wartime as such neither can the innocence of childhood. For a directorial debut one quickly realises Tarkosky is working from a different plane, one where the hidden, the shadowed and the mist no longer exist as a limitrophe, but are brought to the fore and Ivan’s present emotions are laid bare; amongst the half-lit swamp, the suffocation underground and the rumble of flares overhead. Which each glowing terror a moment in Ivan’s future is destroyed, physically, metaphorically and metaphysically, which each act of violent-self a piece of childhood cannot happen.

Ivan attempts to cross the river, back from where he came, an attempt at the impossible, attempt to become what one was, to erase the past. As such Ivan becomes lost in the swamp, in the mist, in the gases and gunfire. We are to find out about his fate in the final scenes of the film. As the Third Reich is overthrown, papers on the floor of an ex-Nazi government building show that Ivan was hanged. We are shown the room of execution. And then cut to a dream, Ivan playing a child’s game on a tranquil beach, all the while a dead tree sits waiting, amongst the frollics and fun there lies the metaphysicl truth of the matter, the childhood lost, tainted and never returned.

Tarkovsky seems me a director one should begin at the beginning with, one shouldn’t start with his magnum opus’ as I feel the emotion and imagery may in fact be too much, it may seem kitsch almost, when in reality it is the utmost calculated spirit and mystery. All Ivan knows is war, without hope of a childhood, born into war and his life is of war. Violence, horror and survival is all he knows and in certain respects all he will (now) ever know, a life scolded by the war. A tension between a sweet yet dangerous nostalgia – that of what is childhood is meant to be – and the reality he is within. Nostalgic dreams become nightmares; the impossibility of normality is true horror. Ivan’s loss is pure, dead loss, a side may have won, but no -ism, -opia or -ology can redeem the death of a child. A vacuum of meaning where there should be enjoyment exists in the total now, it has happened and as such the celebrations at the end of the film fall flat; Somebody won, it has ended, he is dead, hate is no-more…but what of our Ivan? What of a child? This can seem to be empty sentiment, the typical “Think of the children!”, but Tarkosky’s presentation of such a statement retrieves it from its mutation as something used. No longer are we to think of the children as a thought to get us to act, we are presented with the children, the innocence, but we are presented with a narrative complete, as such we are simply to witness what has been and attempt to learn. Ivan was gone as soon as he heard the first bomb fall.

Ivan is mad, that is a monster; that is a little hero; in reality, he is the most innocent and touching victim of the war: this boy, whom one cannot stop loving, has been forged by the violence he has internalised.” – Jean Paul Sartre (http://people.ucalgary.ca/~tstronds/nostalghia.com/TheTopics/Sartre.html)

Arrival – Heidegger, Levinas and Fatalism.

Arrival  – Dir, Denis Villeneuve. 2016.

 

I used to think this was the beginning of your story. Memory is a strange thing, it doesn’t work like I thought it did. We are so bound by time, by its order.” – Louise Banks

 

Denis Villeneuve’s Arrival is as gentle as a Kubrickian film is ever going to get. Overbearing stoicism, captured in wide shots and a general sense of seclusion and alienation, one is not so worried about the aliens as a potential for hostility, but if this will actually change anything, one feels for the earth. Whatever this is, it is already above the idea of humans vs aliens, it is beyond the horizon, into a dark unknown, an unknown even those who travel through space and (potentially) time cannot enter.

Amy Adams as linguist Louise Banks, who we see from the beginning has lost a daughter to cancer, in a flashback overcast with the idea of a dream made, then destroyed. The news comes in, as it always does and always will, aliens have landed…finally? It seems this way to Banks, who is nonchalant to the news, it’s clear to the viewer nothing could overthrow the hand life gave her, she cares not for the one dealt to the world. She’s asked by the government to use her skills as a linguist to communicate with the aliens. At the army camp, situated next to the ‘landed’ ship, she meets Ian Banks, a physicist, whom she has a relevant love interest with. I feel in the case the word ‘alien’ cheapens the detail and nuance applied to this film’s extraterrestrial, who I feel are at opposition to hostility, one has a sense of fright and worry, the extraterrestrials understand they are the strangers. Which at once gives the viewer the feeling of unease, who here is the authorative ‘species’ or genus, the hierarchy has been dissembled, we are at threat together.

The aliens or ‘heptapods’ landed in an oval pebble type ship, as high a skyscraper, yet gentle on the landscape, not too authoritative, not cold nor warm, there, still and settled.

The heptapods reside in there ship, within a lit room filled with what seems to be steam or smoke, separating them and the humans is, I guess, the heptapod equivalent to glass, the humans the other side, in their own large room…which is only illuminated with light from the heptapod side, and their own feeble technology (Glow sticks, lights etc.)

The heptapods bring a new illumination, one humans are only just becoming aware of, a world anew; and so the task begins of how to communicate. The illumination in a sense is post-Platonic, our minds are no longer the only source. Illumination of the Other? Or has the horizon simply ‘moved’. The Levinasian illumination (Existence and Existents) is inverted, the possibility and potentiality of hostility from light, a physical manifestation of uncanny-sense. We supplied the light to our own world for so long, and now an-Other supplies a new light, one that can go beyond our ‘known’ horizons, through time and temporality.

And so the task begins of how to communicate. The heptapods communicate via what seems to be 3-dimensional rings of smoke, the meaning of which change via the subtleties of the shape. Banks begins to understand the language as something which addresses time, addresses temporality, eventually leading her to understand that it can help one understand and view their individual history and future directly, a language that can take one within their history, within their future, within their time. A language in-keeping with Martin Heidegger’s theory of historicality:

[Death] is only the ‘end’ of Dasein; and, taken formally, it is just one of the ends by which Dasein’s totality is closed round. The other ‘end’, however, is the ‘beginning’, the ‘birth’. Only that entity which is ‘between’ birth and death presents the whole which we have been seeking… Dasein has [so far] been our theme only in the way in which it exists ‘facing forward’, as it were, leaving ‘behind’ all that has been. Not only has Being-towards-the-beginning remained unnoticed; but so too, and above all, has the way in which Dasein stretches along between birth and death. (Being and Time 72: 425).

Thus, Dasein, a being such as a human, one which can interrogate its own being is at all times behind its past, and ahead of its future. We are pushing our past, correcting and changing our experience with knowledge of our past, and attending to our past with direction towards possibilities of the future. So the language of the heptapods is a practical manifestation of Heideggerian historicality, praxis-language.

The film doesn’t however, extrapolate on whether the language is in favour of will, or is in fact fatalistic. The ending allows the viewer the knowledge that Louise Banks has seen her future, and that in fact the flashback at the beginning was a flashforward, and at ‘current’ she is witnessing her future, the one she will have with Ian, whom she met whilst working with the heptapods, they will marry, have a child, divorce, and the child shall die of an incurable disease. She decides to stay with Ian despite knowledge of her future, thus can she now – via heptapod language usage – change her future? Improve her relationship with Ian, have the child at a different time so it may potentially avoid the disease. It’s unclear whether at the beginning she (potentially) subconsciously knows of her future – this would be a possibility within the logic of the film.

These questions are classic philosophical questions, those of freewill, free-choice, determinism and fatalism, are our actions our own? Yet the questions are asked via a Heideggerian framework, one in which language is employed as spatio-temporally free-floating, existing outside of physics. A pure metaphysical language. A Heideggerian language of historicality, applied via a Levinasian ‘extraction’:

Moreover, the very fact that a painting extracts and sets aside a piece of the universe and brings about, in an inwardness, the coexistence of worlds that are mutually alien and impenetrable, has already a positive esthetic function.” (Existence & Existents, Emmanuel Levinas, p48)

Usually it is only that of a physical ‘spatio-temporal’ object that can extract from culture, physically that is, an idea etc, an object such as a painting or poem or film carries with it a sense of time, an individual-time. The language of Arrival and that of the heptapods is the extraction of time from a fixed linearity, it is a language to remove the shackles, the individual’s time becomes economic, theirs. Though if the language is, as the film’s linearity would have us believe, fatalistic, then the language is but a curse, we can view our future and do nothing about it? A world learning of their unchangeable futures is a paradox in itself. To teach a class of students how to utilize heptapod language to view their future, would be to teach a class of linguistics students their future’s look very bleak, many of them will die and suffer loss, and will want to change their future, as such, the language only be a tool, a gift, a means to alter one’s future.

The heptapods act as the symbolic manifestation of a transcendental understanding of Heideggerian thought, an understanding in which one can transcend human limitations, break free of deterministic shackles.

Afterword: There is of course the argument that the heptapod language would be part of one’s ‘preset’ path, as such determinism still stands outright, the language may only act as the ability for larger states of flux within a preset horizon.

Dark Futurology 1.0

 

Future studies or, Futurology is the study of possible, probable and preferable futures; emphasis on preferable. At its heart is an undeniable bias towards the probability of a utopian vision of the future, one filled with Universal Basic Income (UBI), taxed automation, friendly AI and in general an emphasis on the future working for us, and not us working for the future; whatever it turns out to ‘be’.

 

Dark Futurology is the study of possible and probable futures also, yet is somewhat more realistic in its application of historical knowledge up until now, analysing dystopian trends and the possibility that the future may not be the World of Tomorrow we all wanted. That automation may become merely a larger, even more controllable and efficient means of production for businesses without society creating alternatives for those whose jobs are lost, AI may hate our guts, UBI may never come, and perhaps we’ll be cooking rat tales on top of PC ventilation panels in a car park, whilst bacteria sized computation devices erase the potential for emotion.

 

This will be a hellish-assemblage of quotes, facts and jottings in relation to the idea of Dark Futurology.

Industry only hires people because the possibility for affordable automation within their industry isn’t possible yet.

“This system will keep installing more and more automation cutting down on the purchasing power of the majority of people. It’s not China or India taking our jobs away the machine has beaten the man. There will come a time called the Gaussian curve where employment is that [flat], production is this [up] and purchasing power is that [down]. The system stops.” – Jacque Fresco

“In new supermarkets what used to be 30 humans, is now 1 human overseeing 30 cashier robots.” – CGP Grey

Automated cars could account for 70 million jobs. Humans are 1/3 of the cost of the majority of businesses. Bots that learn how to make bots, with a learning rate so much vaster than that of a human.

“The FBI has been able to covertly activate a computer’s camera — without triggering the light that lets users know it is recording — for several years,” – The Washington Post

“There was of course no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment. How often, or on what system, the Thought Police plugged in on any individual wire.”1984

Replace 90% of humans, see a 250% increase in production.

The common idea of a linear form of progression for the human race is inherently flawed. A trajectory of progression skewed by technological advances; potentially not skewed, more engulfed and made entirely inferior. The Black Mirror of screens has become a light of which we are the moth. Techno-optimists who believe AI will be their friend, they’ll sit back and watch the work, without any disruption to flux of their thrown-privilege.

As such millennials will be the first generation to lose jobs to automation. Good. AI will finally set us free from menial, mundane and repetitive labour, a life spent serving people goods, or emptying bins isn’t the best kind of life; nothing against these workers of course (I am one myself), but those who say they ‘enjoy’ their work are simply lying to themselves, they most definitely would rather be doing something else…”Would you work here for free if it was a possibility?”

The real question is, can we program automated-retail-robots to have miserable tone-of-voices, dreadful posture, hourly existential crises, dry-robot-skin, awful re-charging habits etc.

The possibility of bionic-transplants, DNA customization, life-prolong, etc. and the possibility that these will only be available to those who can afford them.

Google’s AI software that’s learning how to make AI software.

Humans must merge with machines, or simply become irrelevant.

 

///

 

MEET YOUR MINIMUM WAGE REPLACEMENT – WELCOME: IPAD.

 

MAY I TAKE YOUR ORDER?

 

BEG FOR SCRAPS OF YOU WILL STARVE

 

PLEASE TURN OFF ALL RECORDING EQUIPMENT BEFORE ENTERING

 

METADATA LASTS FOREVER

 

“WELCOME TO ‘STORE’, YOU LAST ENTERED HERE: 3 DAYS, 4 HOURS, 24 MINUTES, 38 SECONDS AGO.”

 

“THERE’S AN ITEM YOU WILL LIKE DOWN AISLE 7″

 

STORE CLOSED DUE TO EMP

 

MICRO-DRONE SWARM AT 9AM

 

PROFILE UPDATE DNA INJECTION AT 11AM

 

HOLLOW BOT CULL AT 1PM – REMINDER TO BACKUP DOMESTIC ‘PET’ MEMORIES.

 

SPYWARE UPDATE 3PM

 

SEX-BOT UPGRADES/DOWNGRADES 9PM

 

FOR THOSE OUTSIDE VR: DIE

 

DECEASED EMAIL OWNERSHIP AUCTIONS PUSHED FORWARD BY 1 WEEK

 

END

 

///

 

Facebook: The Virtual Panopticon

TO BEGIN:

We all know the necessities by now: Zuckerberg’s being himself in ’04 and as such taps into the narcissism of contemporary culture, something I can’t imagine was all too hard for ol’ Zuck. And thus, our beloved Facebook was created. The social media, the one that did it all, the one that got it ‘right’. LinkedIn has a sense of professionalism not in-keeping with everyday tittle-tattle, Myspace sported a clunky design and customization abilities appealing to teenagers and there was also Bebo…

2008 Sees the site hit 100 million users, 2009: 300 million, 2010: 400 million, 2011: 800 million, and on and on until this very second in which the count sits at roughly 1.79 billion members [1] (Note: There are only 7 billion people on the planet). These statistics are nothing new, nothing surprising, we all know of Facebook, of its social scope, how could we not?  I feel this introduction could be skipped entirely, I’m not here to toot Facebook’s horn, the facts are within reach- literally – everyday, Facebook is unavoidable, it seeps into everything, finding a means in all interaction. Communication and connection are its opiate and it only seeks to abuse.

 

1. FACEBOOK & PERSONALITY

In terms of one’s personality Facebook is like a secondary ego, latching onto the primary and feeding from it, a malignant narcissistic cyst that’s threatening to burst if it’s not fed. Don’t get me wrong, I understand that millennials, and well, literally anyone who isn’t a baby-boomer it seems has had the narcissist label thrown at them at some point, and there is such a thing as narcissistic personality disorder, however this section briefly concentrates on narcissism as a kind of social factor instead of any pre-determined chemical/biological factor.

Narcissist: A person who as excessive interest in or admiration of themselves.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with self-care, or pride in one’s achievements, however there is something wrong when a person’s entire perspective is completely solipsistic, a key characteristic of narcissists in their instrumental and often manipulative use of social relationships, friendships and communication as a means for an ego boost. What greater tool to have in your arsenal if these are your aims than a literal repository of interaction and information about everyone in your immediate and often not-so immediate surroundings: encyclopaedic manipulation. To understand someone on a material level prior to ever meeting them, to be able to list their favourite films and movies, to virtually witness the events of their last weekend, to create a means to an end for your own personal gain without ever having to get to know someone.

Why bother though, right? I mean it’s clear to see that the status you spent all of 5 minutes composing has been ‘liked’, you have been validated, a confirmation that you have done something and other people have seen it, liked it, witnessed it, you are the one, you are alive, you are here. Of course, the curve begins. It was 5 likes yesterday why not 10 today? Person X liked something akin this last week why not this week? We must be interesting always. Of course, all this activity only ends up in a sort of self-congratulatory loop:

Person X feels the need for attention so posts a status. Said status is liked and person X feels validated, thus believe what they must offer is of interest. Person X continues to post and as such more and more people feel they need to ‘get-in’ on person X’s popularity etc. etc.

This loop can be backed with data from Brunel University, which can be found here.

Also, researchers at Western Illinois University found a direct link between disruptive forms of social narcissism and high Facebook ‘friend counts: here

I think perhaps it’s all too easy to comment on the very transparent notions of narcissism and vanity in regards to social media, perhaps it would be a little more meaningful to extrapolate as to why this may be the case. In ‘reality’ when we like things we feel no need to validate our claims, unless of course we are trying to impress someone or some-company – much like you would on Facebook- perhaps one will drink something they find disgusting in an attempt to seem sophisticated, or they will tactfully place a copy of War & Peace on their dining table before their friends arrive, other than these rather silly occasions generally speaking, if you like something, you just like it and get on with it, if you think about the entirety of the things you like, it’s mind boggling, the unfathomable amount of activities and materials that are better than neutral yet we never really feel the need to comment on them, so why on Facebook? Social proof, maybe? Social status? Or perhaps these opinions and ‘likes’ are merely weapons in a virtual social game: Whoever can accumulate the most likes wins! They’re the most popular!

Of course, for those who are not part of the ‘narc’ crowd, the opposite is entirely true. They sit and witness how little friends they have, how little likes they have. A structure built to make you feel connected only makes you feel more alone and sad. Daily, you witness everyone supposedly having the time of their lives, and you believe it to be true, every meal everyone else is having is incredible, everyone’s laughing all the time. Of course, once again this is not the case, people only upload and post the best bits of their day, you’re seeing a best of reel, mundane moments filtered to make them seem divine, a shot of a salami baguette so saturated it has become neon, inspirational quotes, cute pics, uncanny smiles and in general an entire collage of the false and fake. I don’t know about the lives of those of you reading this, but I’m willing to believe that those very people who post inspirational quotes about being free are themselves very shy and work menial jobs, those who post selfies are insecure and anxious. The user’s profile is the creation of a desire, a desire which can only become reality for others, a harmful one at that. You sculpt and perfect your profile to seem as if everything in your life is going exactly how you want it to, you know it not to be true and the effort to keep up the charade becomes greater, and the anxiety and paranoia felt by those who see your ‘perfect’ life also becomes greater, and so, both sides of the same simulacrum feel empty and lost, and are left wandering “How come my lift isn’t actually like that?”

Think about it: there is no experience you’ve had that you were not at the absolute centre of. The world as you experience it is right there in front of you, or behind you, to the left or right of you, on your TV, or your monitor, or whatever. Other people’s thoughts and feelings have to be communicated to you somehow, but your own are so immediate, urgent, real – you get the idea.” – David Foster Wallace – This is Water

 

2. PRIVACY

I’ll keep this technical stuff brief, it’s easy to research and relatively transparent.

In recent years Facebook, has been utterly scalded publicly for its privacy policy, yet…no one cares, everyone (that is 1.79 billion people) are entirely fine with the fact that their ‘private’ data and images are being being sold off to third party companies, so they can bring you personalised adverts to make you feel even more alone and anxious than you already were.

Need examples:

  1. Signing a two-year deal with MasterCard to access user data, as to uncover behavioural insights which of course can be sold on. [1]
  2. Facebook’s ‘real name’ policy [2]
  3. Third Party Platforms (apps) having the ability to connect to your Facebook account.
  4. Facebook accounts publicly listed on sites such as Yahoo and Google.
  5. Facebook literally monitors your internet browsing [3]
  6. Scanning people’s personal photos [4]

Alongside theses there’s: Buying WhatsApp and combining the data with FB, collecting data about self-censorship, ‘considering’ collecting cursor movements, automatic facial recognition, systems in place to deduce information and the list goes on and on.

Facebook is one of the primary reasons the “but I’ve got nothing to hide argument” has become so prevalent. In short, the argument is that it doesn’t really matter if we’re spied on, because we’ve got nothing to hide. I imagine the average FB user doesn’t have anything to hide, however, that doesn’t automatically give them the right to pry. Yes, pictures of cats and dinners are extremely uninteresting and are of no real concern, the problem being, they’re my pictures, or they’re your pictures and as such only you should be able to say what can and cannot be done with them, unless of course your express permission is given first.

 

3. ACTOR = AUDIENCE

Within the confines of Facebook one is simultaneously the actor and the audience, a monkey, who’s life has become a mere product for a global corporate. Your dainty trip to the beach with you dear ol’ Aunty is no longer memory, it is transformed via your own self-interest into a malignance sent against you. One cannot truly experience anything if they are doing so via a 5-inch screen. The memory you would have attained has become mere fodder for a machinic media, the wind and the breeze become pixels and likes.

You are a performer, supposedly by choice, you truly believe every action you take, everything you do people sincerely care about, to like, to like, to like, repeatedly in the hope of a return. There’ll never be enough you know? There’s never going to be a point wherein your account is done, you reached terminal likes. You wrote that status which calmed every self-centred urge in your body, the machine will feed on you until your food’s gone cold and the filters eventually fade. People who genuinely care about you would want you to experience your life. In his recent show Make Happy Bo Burnham said this:

I know very little about anything, but I do know this: that if you can live your life without an audience, you should do it.”

I believe he’s entirely correct, don’t seek validation, seek genuine experience. Seek out the possibility to enjoy something entirely on your own, or with another, seek a memory that can never be owned or bought. No amount of third party interruption, programming or algorithmic tweaking can ever replicate the feeling you had. To truly rebel against social media, one must have a wholly sincere experience independent of societal pressure

 

4. VIRTUAL PANOPTICON

A Panopticon is a type of prison or institutional building, originally designed by social theorist Jeremy Bentham. The idea being that the design allows all inmates of the prison to be observed by a single watchmen or guard, without the in mates ever building able to tell if they are being watched. Of course, a single watchman cannot observe all the cells at once, however prisoners must act as if they are being watched as it is a possibility.

The metaphor applies itself all too well to Facebook, the average user is aware of his or her 100 maybe even 1000 plus friends, aware that they are there being watched and there to be watched, always there, the possibility to act, act positively, negatively, despite something or instead of something, your opinion is no longer your own, you’re weighing it up against the communal expectations in fear of being ostracized from your immediate community. The watchman is all and you’re included. Behaviour regulated by a social body in constant flux and to act out of line is to alert the watchman.

A paranoia of sharing, we are creators, guards, watchmen and judges all in a single blow, for to judge is to create opinion, to create is to be judged, a realm of self-affirmation and virtual-schizophrenic-attitudes. Users are constantly perspiring, either figuratively or literally, status’ planned for the ‘correct’ time of day, the company you keep and the food you eat shall all be observed, the call of the lost generation was “I am here! I am here!” yet within an echo chamber no one can find each other. The cells seem entirely your own, at first they appeared exploratory, I get to experience this world with others, you loved the fact you could see other’s cells, yet in fact you could not, you could only see what they wanted you to see and you believed it to be true.

You eventually forget you ever volunteered to enter here, that’s right, it was your choice to come here and sit in the cell, dank, dark and full of perpetual, unattainable desire. The watchman is only needed as long as there are prisoners, the prisoners shall only remain as long as they believe they are being watched.

No one is watching you or your life as vehemently as you are. The only person waiting for you to make a mistake or trip up is you. Everyone is a prisoner, everyone is a guard.