META-NOMAD

Exiting Modernity – 9 – No One to Turn To

You’re feeling lost, historically this feeling isn’t rare. What’s unique is that you feel lost within a space and system which has so many rules, constrictions and directions, it seems odd that one could get lost within such a space where the next signpost is only a mere step away. Of course this feeling is very different to the one imposed on you by others. The feeling of being lost, they say, is not rare for someone of your age, it’s completely normal to feel lost when you’re young. Except, the feeling hasn’t lifted in many years, in fact, it’s only got worse…more complex. You could denounce all I say as a form of angst, or bitterness, or even resentment, because this is what you do.

I dislike hastily shoving entire generations into groups such as Boomers, Gen Y or Gen Z, but stereotypes exist for a reason and unfortunately certain generations bow to a certain God and have passed the same belief system onto their children. They of course bow to work, consumption and an absurd form of material culture in general. Before I start here, this isn’t an anti-boomer piece, that would be dull, it’s actually an essay regarding infection and principle.

The consumerist culture I have expanded upon within various previous installments of this series is their God, their belief-system and their cultural center. It is the reason, they believe, that everything works and everything falls into place. And within their own circular logic they’re actually entirely correct. IF you wish for a large house, flash car etc etc. (you’ve heard it all before), then what you need to do is work long hours, get into debt, spend the rest of your life paying it off and die. And that, technically, ‘works’. That is of course all held under the implication that that is what you want to do with your life. You’re reading this, so I imagine you don’t.

I am reluctant to outline who this ‘we’ is, because it’s actually rather tough to pinpoint who it even is anymore. I don’t think any particular group of is pulling anybody else’s strings is any direct sense, such forms of blaming lead only to extremist delusions. And if you’ve taken anything from this series it’s that you have all the power of your own will, and as such can remove yourself from those things and forces which you do not want to be within. This we might be your older relatives, but it might also be your friends. You remember both these groups from when you were younger in a completely different light, don’t you? I know I do. One can of course state that I’m looking at my past through rose-tinted glasses, I may very well be, I don’t know. But what I do know is that the character and personality of these people has changed. Those new and vibrant spirits from my youth, many whom were close friends, have, upon repetition of action and conversation, become repetitions in-themselves. They utter little more than extracts from the latest media they’ve consumed and their opinions exist between an ever-tightening window of acceptability, and as for originality, well, there’s little that isn’t quite simply numbing. The ‘we’ in a sense, is merely the force of the culture I have been critiquing and its general expectations for the entire population it comes into contact with, inclusive of yourself.

The problem with this form of cultural infection is that you feel like you have no one to turn to. If we’re to return to the feeling of ‘being lost’ mentioned at the beginning, it’s not the usual way one feels lost because when one normally feels lost, they understand what they walked into and that there is some way out. One walks into a maze, gets lost, and does not panic, because they understand that is the nature of mazes, you just keep searching and the exit turns up eventually. The feeling of being lost I am referring to is vastly different on all counts. Not only did you not choose to walk into this maze, you don’t really even know what it is, and as such, don’t know what this feeling of being lost is even in relation to. A quote thrown about a lot these days is “Homesick for a place I’m not even sure exists.”. That gets fairly close to what we’re discussing here, the feeling that one’s potential is haunting them from another world where they haven’t had all the enchantment drained from them.

As stated, the fact you feel as if you have no one to turn to doesn’t help at all in this matter. What I mean by this is that for those actively looking for an exit, and are not just complacent in their situation, will find, at every turn, those whose perspective and outlook is so utterly absurd that one can’t help but feel entirely alone. Wittgenstein said if a lion could talk we wouldn’t be able to understand him, the frame of reference would be so different that it just wouldn’t make sense to us. I don’t think we even need to look outside of our own species now to see tenable results in this theory. You can understand these people, the words and sentences coming from them make sense, but only when an entire form of cultural logic is taken for granted. Prior to understanding the average Joe and all his desires, worries and opinions one must take for granted that this is how life is, all alternatives are not alternatives, but mistakes in relation to the great perfection that is contemporary Western consumer culture, for the average Joe, this is where we were meant to end up, wasting our precious energy and time on acquiring trinkets and status.

They want X, that doesn’t really make any sense to you, but sure, they’re not hurting anyone so you go along with it. You grow older and everyone wants X. If you don’t have X then you are seen as weird, odd and an outcast. But not only this, if you do not accept, enjoy and actively participate in the culture and system that makes X possible, then you too are weird and an outcast. You have to hide in the shadows, learning quickly to feign enthusiasm over the most mundane things. All of a sudden you feel alone in a room full of people and have nowhere to turn to. See, all the public spaces are full to the brim of their culture, all the quiet places are slowly being destroyed and infected and the only remaining places are deemed weird. Your choices are repressive and totalitarian normality or, ostracism.

Much along the same lines of a statement earlier in the series, ‘Why prolong a life you’re not enjoying?’, I ask you, ‘Why involve yourself with that which does not interest you?’. You might think you don’t, but how many things do you do, week-in, week-out, which you do purely out of a sense of normality and habit, things you do not to fit in, but to feel like you fit in? I imagine there’s many. The reason then that you feel lost and alone is not because you are, but because you are trying to be and find yourself in a place/logic which cannot willingly incorporate you into it. You are not lost, you have simply yet to find or understand the correct maze. It is as if you are being tested on how to be better at X, when you’re entire will is directed towards understanding Y. Not only does this culture make you unhappy, it quite literally makes no sense to you.

There are many who simply do not understand ascetics, stoics, minimalists, simple-living, nomads, wanderers etc., the problem however is that these very same people act as if their lack of understanding is not due to an ignorance on their part, but due to a malfunction regarding that which they don’t understand. That which does not conform to Western culture is not different, but wrong, this is what they have lead you to believe, this is why you feel lost and alone.

Practice: This practice is pithy and a little unrestrained, in fact, it’s a little careless. The practice is this, who cares? I have said this many times, you are free to do as you please. The problem is most people don’t understand this in all its grandiosity. Think of the average lottery winner, when asked what they will do with the money, the state that they shall live their current life but more extravagantly. The same applies to freedom. You can become freer, but how you then utilize that freedom is still up to you…that’s what it is to be free. So how are you going to use your newfound freedom? By simply becoming a freer prisoner within the maze of modernity, stating that you’re free because you drink, smoke and eat more, or are you going to use your freedom to head towards the exit and create as much of your own perfect life as possible?

Exiting Modernity – 7 – Are You Not Entertained?

Most, if not all of the ‘targets’ in this series have been quite easy, the ones which time and time again come across as cliches when written or spoken about, and I’d like to think that I have tackled them in such a way that I’ve removed some of the detritus added to them by motivational group-think. With this said, I’m going to target one of the most cliche targets of all modernity, TV. Or in its overarching context, entertainment. The fact this begs a whole post to cover should show how it’s affecting your life more than you think. In the previous posts I have made it clear I am rather passionately averse to contemporary entertainment, and I’d like to utilize this post to clear up many misconceptions regarding entertainment, and how one can form a healthier relationship with it – if such a relationship is possible.

Let’s begin at the micro and move out to the macro. Once again the average Joe spends his day working a job he dislikes, commuting, eating junk etc., basically he spends his day being controlled. But at the same time he bows down to a more covert form of control, one under the guise of ‘entertainment’ and ‘happiness’. Now, the term entertainment is in direct correlation with TV, video games and smart phones, it is primarily what they’re built for. Even texting and phone calls are entertainment to a certain degree, I mean people are using their phones to natter and gossip far more than they’re using them to communicate actual data – we’ll meet at the cafe at 12 etc. – in this sense smart phones, even at their most basic, are a form of entertainment.

Entertainment: the action of providing or being provided with amusement or enjoyment.

So between ol’ average Joe’s hours of work, biological needs and commuting, his other primary focus is being entertained. Upon waking he turns on the radio or scrolls through his phone, or eats his breakfast whilst watching TV. On his commute he listens to the radio or music on his phone. At work the radio is on and he routinely checks his phone[1] and on and on. Basically, Joe has the need/desire to be entertained as much as he can be, there’s never a moment when he is truly alone with his thoughts. As soon as he sits down with nothing to do he whips out his phone and starts scrolling. Now, most people get quickly on the defensive here – “Well, what’s wrong with that!?”. Largely I think this is just projection of their insecurities, most people know they’re wasting their finite time (the only thing you can’t buy) and get angry at those who point this out. But for sake of argument, let’s find some reasons why it actually is a bad thing to do.

I don’t often enjoy nor find much use in excessive deconstruction, but the act of contemporary entertainment begs such a process to drag it to court. Because that’s what most people forget when they’re watching TV or scrolling through their phone, it is an act, they are performing an action, however banal and mind-numbing it may be. Any action performed consistently eventually becomes a habit, at least in a certain sense, whether you like it or not. And at its root the action you are performing when one is engrossed within contemporary entertainment is apathy. That’s right, man has found a way to not only be actively apathetic, but also has found a way to cultivate this behaviour in such a way that it has become a virtue – “Bro, I spent all weekend watching Netflix!” Let’s take this apart, let’s have a look at how man decides to spend the life he has been given-

There is a man or woman, plonked on a sofa. Their body in a strange unnatural position, all folded up and round, no point taking any more weight than any other, they’re a big pile of goo. They will remain here, just sat, in the same 4ft by 4ft space for hours end – the world is way bigger than this by the way – they’ll move their arm, maybe reposition, but that’s about it for using their body. As for their mind, it is quite literally working at its lowest setting. Unlike reading, learning, meditating, practicing or concentrating, contemporary acts of entertainment require nothing from the viewer, apart from one thing, that they stare in a certain direction. They are mediums of apathy. One could, if they so wished, be numbed all over, except for their eyes, and they would still be undertaking the act of being ‘entertained’, that is how pathetic this act is. I have nothing against what is on the TV, nor anything against visual media, what I am against is media which is a means to an end. People no longer like TV shows or specific films, they like Netflix, or watching-TV as a whole. They’re favorite pastimes are being apathetic to all that they can be. It is once again a question of whether or not you ever desired this in the first place, or has someone else decided this is the normal desire to have?

Not only do TV/media/smart-phones emanate as a false-desire, they also project further false-desires into your brain. Aspiration, that is what the large majority of contemporary media is – ‘You should be X, you should be doing Y, you should own Z’. Often a critique of TV is that it sells you the life you could be living, that you are watching the life you want instead of working towards it. I am somewhat sympathetic to this view, but at the same time very cautious of it. Why am I allowing the TV to tell me what I desire? Prior to switching the infernal thing on I never knew nor cared about X, Y and Z and now I have been quickly programmed to care, but I do not, not actually. What TV wants you to aspire to is to desire to watch more TV.

Let’s move to the macro, the main focus of this piece. We’ve seen what entertainment does on a micro level – it turns someone into a pathetic waste of potential, if this is what you wish, fine, just stay away from me. But what of entertainment in itself, as an idea? Since when did entertainment become the thing we directed ourselves towards after all survival, work and responsibilities were taken care of. “Ah, everything I need to do is done, time to no longer take any other aspect of my life seriously!”

And this is where the greatest lies ever sold (by modernity) comes to the fore. Happiness and entertainment. Those are complete and utter lies. I put them here together because of their importance in relation to one another. See, entertainment can also be taken as hedonism or enjoyment, and has become synonymous with happiness. When someone talks of being happy these days more often that not we assume that person enjoyed many material pursuits and pleasures, they were entertained and so they were happy, they went clubbing and so they were happy, they ate pizza and watched Netflix and so they were happy etc. We often hear people state with conviction that what they wish for themselves and their children is happiness, but have spent little time working out what happiness actually is. Because if one never thinks on whether or not they’re actually happy, then they will be quite content to merely be entertained forever. As soon as you question whether or not that 10 hour TV and junk food marathon actually made you happy, you soon come to realize that absolutely isn’t what happiness is. And of course, this is what you’re sold. Because happiness-as-entertainment is easy to sell: Holidays, new cars, big TVs, video games, junk food etc. all make one happy, but only if one’s definition of happiness is the same as those selling you it. Don’t allow others to redefine your emotions. You are not entertained just because they say that what you’re taking part in is entertainment, and as such, you have not found happiness just because they say you are undertaking that which supposedly makes you happy.

I know what you’re all thinking, “Well, what the hell is happiness then if you believe you have all the answers!” Now, I never said I had any answers, you should search for those yourself for fear of falling into someone else’s answer. With that said I do believe, to paraphrase David Foster Wallace, that to interject a question without attending to the answer is a tyranny, and as such I will attempt to extrapolate as to what happiness is and how it can be found from within modernity.

When one thinks back to the moments in which they were happy, they actually realize quite a bleak truth about happiness without realizing it. That is, happiness only exists in retrospect. I theorize this is why so many people find comfort in those long TV binge-watching sessions, it reminds them of a time in their childhood when they escaped for hours into a fantasy world on the TV etc. Anyway, the idea that one can just be happy, right now, this instant, is a complete miscommunication of what happiness is. Happiness is always in relation to suffering, discomfort, effort or overcoming. Those 4 terms can take very odd and unlikely manifestations in real life, but if you think about the times you were most happy, in the sense of contentment, fulfillment and a serious happiness of sincerely earned merit, you realize that prior to the happiness a certain amount of suffering took place, more than likely an amount in relation to the happiness you felt.

You earn your first belt in karate, months of work pays off and you feel happy that it’s all come together. You spend extra time preparing a delicious meal for someone you love. You spend 3 years studying hard for a degree. You take the time to get your thoughts down on paper because you believe they’ll help people in the same predicament. You spend years watching your child grow and learn with the help of your efforts. Each and every one of these examples expected the person to take the rest of their life, outside of work and eating, seriously. They had expectations. They were expected to make a sacrifice and suffer, but not in some torturous sense, but in the sense of testing themselves to see just how far they can go whilst they’re here on this planet. All of these examples are in strict opposition to apathy. The habit cultivated by desiring to be entertained 24/7, if you’re being entertained you’re not pushing yourself, not truly looking into your full potential.

Here’s something for you dear reader, and as much as I care about you, and am open to emails from those frustrated at modernity’s tricks, I present you with this: Were you really put on this earth to simply be comfortable? You probably never thought about it because we’re bombarded with the idea that the opposite notion is true 24/7, we take it as a given that those who are lounging around all day are having the best lives, that those in complete comfort are loving life. I am not saying that we have to all go down the mines to feel truly alive, nor am I saying that one should just work, work, work. I am simply asking you, quite sincerely, is comfort really at the end of your journey? That’s it is it, to just be entertained and die?

What else is there you cry! There is the rest of the world, there is suffering, triumph, overcoming, challenge, searching, frustration, breaking-through, stoicism, asceticism, love, affection, concentration, discipline and motivation, to name just a few. All of these are in some sense in battle with apathy, apathy wishes to take you over, it wishes for you to be easy. To sit back and let all the desires they have for you take you over.

Practice: Question why you turn to your smart-phone every time you are free to do so. Check the amount of time you use your phone and calculate how many days per year that is, ask yourself, is this how I truly wish to spend my finite time?

 

 

[1] If your check your phone 1 hour a day that accounts for 18 full days (24 hours) a year. I imagine many of you check your phone for 6 hours a day, that equates to roughly a third of your year, or; if you have a smart-phone for the rest of your life, a third of it will be spent staring at it. Is that how you wish to spend a third of your life, staring at a tiny screen?

Exiting Modernity – 6 – No Personal Gods, No Personal Masters

The education system played the cruelest trick on you and you never even noticed it. The trick was in the way in which the education system treated authority. If you’re to think back to your schooldays – I am once again speaking primarily of the West – you can probably remember a lot of adults on power trips, bureaucratic systems which seemed nonsensical to you and rules which, clear as day, were there only to assert that there are those who will tell you what to do…just because they can. At the time school’s authoritarian system seemed so cruel, demeaning and frustrating, not only because it was, but because they wanted it to seem this way. Only a Beano-esque caricature of authority such as that found within the Western education system could possibly make life after school seem free…

Which is the exact reason they needed to test you, to push you to the absolute limits of capture. If you’re to think back now, notice how utterly absurd it is that one had to ask to go to the toilet, to ask if it was OK to perform a natural human function! If you’re school was anything like mine the majority of pupils went along with this, they understood it was how things are and so thought nothing of it. Now, to the point. If we’re to take this absolute culmination of minute control techniques and place them in relation to the reality of life after education, it suddenly makes that life seem very free. No longer do you have to ask to do, well, anything really. You can buy what you want, own what you want and – within limits – do what you want. The problem of course is that this newfound ‘freedom’ understood in relation to your previous prison-esque existence makes even the most mundane tasks seem like a dream (to some).

It always amazed me that post-education I found that a large majority of my acquaintances genuinely enjoyed tasks such as insurance, traffic, post-office trips, taxes etc. Nothing makes modern Western man feel freer than chatting about the chains he shares with others. It makes them feel very adult if they mention these things, and to feel like an adult makes them feel free. Except, this entire notion of ‘adult’ was created in relation to both the education system’s desires for you and its means of authority. Or in short; I bet you can’t wait to leave here and be an adult. And that’s how they get you. Usually the education has left enough frustration in one’s system that this illusion of freedom doesn’t wear off for an entire lifetime, and so people find themselves assimilated into more complex constrictions and believe them to be freeing. Often the more complex they are, the freer they feel. I mean, think of the lengths of time, patience and mental-fatigue people go to with regard to sorting out even the most minor of status or monetary benefits. “I spent just 3 hours today and managed to get £100 off my car insurance!” Humanity, a cosmic emetic!

“When you invent the ship, you also invent the shipwreck; when you invent the plane you also invent the plane crash; and when you invent electricity, you invent electrocution… Every technology carries its own negativity, which is invented at the same time as technical progress. ” (Paul Virilio, Politics of the Very Worst)

Virilio should have extended his metaphor – as beautiful as it is – to freedom, as Dmitry Orlov has:

The freedom to be car-free is not generally regarded as important, while the freedoms bestowed by car ownership are rather questionable. It is the freedom to make car payments, pay for repairs, insurance, parking, towing and gasoline. It is the freedom to pay tolls, traffic tickets, title fees and excise taxes. It is the freedom to spend countless hours stuck in traffic jams and to suffer injuries in car accidents. It is the freedom to bring up neurologically damaged children by subjecting them to unsafe carbon monoxide levels (you are encouraged to have a CO detector in your house, but not in your car—because it would be going off all the time). It is the freedom to suffer indignities when pulled over by police, especially if you’ve been drinking. In terms of a harm/benefit analysis, private car ownership makes no sense at all.” (You are not in control)

I don’t want to focus this solely on technology as both Virilio and Orlov have, though understandably they both hold freedom in high regard. I wish to extend this idea back into what I was previously talking about, that is, other’s ideas of freedom as imposed upon your psyche. Both Virilio and Orlov’s quotes make it clear that one’s idea of freedom is eschewed, largely by our fixation on the material. The same idea of freedom applies of course to all further materials, take just a moment to think of the freedoms that come with the material you hold so dear to your heart: Property, communication devices, PCs etc. But this also applies to habits-of-freedom. Once again I return to the juxtaposition between the archetypal authority of the school vs our cathartic release from that hellhole. If we take just one single habit we all currently abide by out its regular context, we can begin to see the damage that has been done to us by adjusting to these ideas. Let’s take a shopping trip.

One might argue that we have to eat. And I would agree, we have to eat, it’s a biological fact. I’m not arguing that the system doesn’t make it difficult for one to not shop at supermarkets, nor am I saying that it doesn’t occlude that there are actually other options. Much in the same way that the System’s Neatest Trick assimilates all rebellious behaviour into its own loop, so too does the system assimilate all alternative modes of existence into its breath of control. Think of the butchers, bakers and…candlestick makers in relation to a contemporary supermarket, they all seem nostalgically quaint don’t they? Almost like a non-serious way of doing things. They’re still accepted somewhat of course, largely because there’s been a huge push in recent years for artisanal, organic and free-range stuff etc. Let’s take it one step further, let’s say you go to a friend’s house for dinner and they state you just need to go hunt the rabbit and pick the mushrooms before you can get started. What would you think? You most likely would think this absurd, but it was not long ago that such a reality was commonplace, only since the 60-70’s has the idea of non-corporation reliance seemed crazy.

Back to freedom. When you engage in the freedom of shopping, the ur-freedom of Western society, what is it that you’re exactly engaging in? You’re free to walk down countless aisles of useless products and be pulled to and fro by subconscious advertising that wishes to harm you (junk food), you’re free to walk under mass fluorescent lighting as opposed to walking outside, you’re free to engage in mind-numbing conversation with those who only speak to you out of monetary obligation, you’re free to engage in the desires of others being imposed upon your will. Quite frankly, you’re free to engage in a battle which you walked into of your own accord.

This piece isn’t about altering an alternative to this, – I would push growing veg, attending local markets and foraging, by the way – this piece is about freedom, and our idea of freedom. Now, people don’t only see that shopping trip as a part of their free life, they often see it as an expression of freedom in itself. “Well I actually buy Brand X detergent…”. The earliest years of life were – if you’re like the average person in Western society – spent within familial and state authority structures, your brain was sculpted to understand that outside such structures was freedom; if only I could leave school, if I could leave home, if only I could get a car…then I’d be free. The trifecta of stereotypical Western freedom: A job, a house and a car. 3 basic forms of temporal and monetary debt.

To the title, No Personal Gods, No Personal Masters. Once again, this is a way of saying you’re in control. The one thing that you are 100% in control of is yourself. What then are these habits and ideas of freedom, for as has been quite thoroughly stated up until now, you need to take responsibility. So to understand that the ‘freedom of shopping’ is another’s desire forced into your will is one thing, but then to blame that ‘other’ for you taking action on it is another. You can understand who’s to blame, just don’t blame them, because you’re just as silly for willingly walking into the trap.

This form of pseudo-freedom has become a personal Master. You bow to it as you would a schoolmaster who was telling you off. You get angry at the traffic but never seriously consider getting rid of your car of finding a closer job. The supermarket frustrates you but you never seriously consider learning to grow vegetables, attending farmer’s markets or sourcing the products from local suppliers. You hate your job and the cycle it feeds, but you never seriously consider there is an alternative because you know full well you’d never do anything about it, you are scared. But what you’re scared of is falling outside of a notion of freedom that was never your own to begin with. There’s a little fascist inside all of us and we fucking love them, why? Everything is easier when you’re told what to do. Why do you think people work so willingly? They have no clue what else to do, instructions and obedience are illusions of sense and reason, they only make sense within a constricted system.

It is easy to yell from the rooftops “No Gods, No Masters!”, because once again, that is an action of externalization, it is removal of responsibility and thought. It is placing the direction of one’s own life into the hands of an abstraction. You worship these sculpted abstractions as if they were real, and perform emotional feats with regard to these beliefs; you feel helpless, depressed and anxious about the future, all because you have subconsciously constructed your life around these illusions of grandiosity.  It is very easy to rebel against a God or Master, for their presence shall strike you down; but to rebel against the personal Gods and Masters of our own tortured psyche is another battle all together, their presence cannot appear for it to be struck down, for you always finds a reason for it remain strong and vigilant, you power the illusion that is ruining your life!

What you’re doing when you abide by these illusions of freedom is putting the responsibility for your own life in someone else’s hands. There is no such thing as a shop with ‘good choice’ or ‘good selection’, those ‘choices’ were already chosen for you, the real choice is to think about what choices you actually have, and whether or not you become subservient just because of the convenience. Who taught you that serving someone was what one does, was it the idea/person you serve by any chance? Who told you that X was good, beneficial and positive, was it X by any chance?

You introspect on the truths of contemporary freedom and fall into despair, where’s the alternative, where is the other you cry. Remove the binary, the idea that there is some land of hope waiting for you; the idea that there is state of freedom fit just for you that is external to you is false. The only freedom is the one you create after burning all mental haunts to the ground and rebuilding. Use not the foundations of an archaic mass or state, use not the building material of a thousand lonely ideologies, use not the habits, customs and traditions of those who conspire against you. State loudly and often, even to those who do not presume they’re in such a position ‘I do not respect your authority, your status has no merit within my domain.’ The supermarket walls begin to melt, roads begin to appear as shackles, houses offer little protection only suffocation, schools become prisons and the work becomes a matter of shifting abstractions. Alter your perception of freedom in such a manner that it does the word justice. We are free is a paradox. I am free, when proclaimed loudly, sounds like a cry for help. Internally, quietly, knowing that your choices are your own, and that you’re working towards a greater state of being which has been wholly devised in moments of solitude and reflection, without tampering from the world, within such a state is found the seed of freedom, let it blossom and do what you absolutely must, before it’s too late.

Too late isn’t an age or time; too late is when fatigue leads to submission and you forget yourself completely, a potential human dissolved into nothingness.

Exiting Modernity – 5 – Defeatist: If You Have to Eat Shit, Best Not to Nibble

Parts 1234

I noted previously – though not as clearly – that such phrases as ‘the system’ or ‘the man’ are unhelpful. As fun as it is to “Stick it to the man!”, we know that in reality it’s an act of transparent narcissism. This will of course offend those who have made it their life’s work to ‘stick it to the man’, but the very fact there are a multitude of groups (not just individuals) who have spent quite literally every waking hour protesting, acting-up and generally causing a nuisance for the system, shows that their brand/type of activity is nothing for the system, it doesn’t even cause the system to shrug as it blows them away like pesky midges.

There are those who will say that I am being defeatist, more than likely those who have let themselves become swept up in a shriek of the herd, stood there wearing leather jackets and Doc Martins, calling me a sell-out. Let me explain. It is quite evident that protesting does nothing. The only thing it does is make others annoyed at your cause. You’re in their way, they certainly dislike their job, but they dislike being annoyed on the way to it even more – their job isn’t optional, your incessant virtue-signalling is. What does work is not preaching, but teaching. (Unfortunately we lack many good teachers).

Anyway, regarding the label of ‘defeatist’:

If you have to eat shit, best not to nibble. Bite, chew, swallow, repeat. It goes quicker.”

I am not telling you to eat the system’s shit willingly, only that the quicker you eat its shit now, the less you’ll have to eat later, potentially you’ll get into a situation where you no longer have to eat any shit at all. Enough of these coprophilic metaphors. The point is, unless you truly wish to become a homeless vagabond (absolutely nothing wrong with that, seriously.) you are going to have compromise, and no amount of idealist pamphleteering is going to change the situation at present.

One of the primary traits of the system is that it is a positive feedback loop where almost anything is concerned. In fact, I’d even argue that it is a multiplicity of separate positive-feedback loops. What I mean by this is that if X is working for the system, the system tends (almost always does) to amplify X until it no longer can, the feedback is wherein the system almost amplifies the compounded X – think, cumulative interest. How does this apply to reality, or your everyday life, let’s have a look-

Remember that band you liked as a kid? Let’s say for the sake of this piece the band was called Hellthread Deluxe, or HD for short. HD were sort of folk-metal, singing about high school nostalgia, rebellion against the system by way of destruction and cooking recipes involving peaches. All of a sudden HD got really big, this annoyed you because you based your entire identity around HD and now your interests seem vacant to you, anyway. The system – or parts of the system – notice how popular HD are becoming and unconsciously attach the feedback process to the commodity-entity that is HD. It begins to get infected.

All of a sudden there are HD cookbooks everywhere. All of a sudden there’s folk-metal bands everywhere, but of course, these were 2 of the physical things HD promoted, surely they can’t capture the feeling of HD and sell it? All of a sudden there are TV stars, radio hosts and popular names who are becoming more and more rebellious and destructive; the world flips and that authentic feeling you once got from HD records fades into a miserable, obnoxious static. “They don’t get it though, not like I do!” you say to yourself. You’d be correct in this judgement, but you can’t complain without seeming like a gate-keeper.

A few years pass and HD shirts are so commonplace that you’ve all but erased them from memory. You begin to latch onto obscurer interests in a hope that a certain amount of artistic and creative ambiguity will keep those interests safe from the grasp of the system, but it never works. If the system can, it will.

We’re seeing this most recently with the rebirth of the ‘Simple Living’ movement, which in the late 80’s and 90’s was called ‘Voluntary Simplicity’. It’s a movement I’m fairly fond of, but much like our folky friends HD, it’s going through the system as we speak. But succinctly, Simple Living is…living simply. Not minimalism or asceticism, a medium between the two both emotionally and physically, an understanding that we can have comfort and also avoid many of the pitfalls of consumption. Of course the system sees that Simple Living has the potential to cause disruption to its way of being – economic/profit disruption – and sets to work subsuming Simple Living into its framework. “GET YA SIMPLE LIVING BOOKS! You think you’re living simply now, wait until you purchase our simple living kit, just £399 today!” The system finds some way to tell you and make you believe that you’re not ‘doing’ simple living correctly, or as the other simple live-rs are. It preys on your anxiety in relation to status and popularity, not only does it think you’re missing out on something, but it makes you believe you’re missing out on something it just told you the existence of!

“Have you heard of X?”

“No I have n-”

“OMG! Everyone has X, how come you don’t have X!”

 

Ted Kaczynski’s The System’s Neatest Trick explains this process more succinctly than I ever could:

  1. For the sake of its own efficiency and security, the System needs to bring about deep and radical social changes to match the changed conditions resulting from technological progress.

  2. The frustration of life under the circumstances imposed by the System leads to rebellious impulses.

  3. Rebellious impulses are co-opted by the System in the service of the social changes it requires; activists “rebel” against the old and outmoded values that are no longer of use to the System and in favor of the new values that the System needs us to accept.

  4. In this way rebellious impulses, which otherwise might have been dangerous to the System, are given an outlet that is not only harmless to the System, but useful to it.

  5. Much of the public resentment resulting from the imposition of social changes is drawn away from the System and its institutions and is directed instead at the radicals who spearhead the social changes.

Back to the beginning of this piece, for those who would call me defeatist in my acceptance of eating the system’s shit, do you see now that no amount of hand-waving and alternative living can meet with the great cybernetic God that is ‘the system’. So for those of you who call others sell-outs, or who belittle others who have utilized the system to promote their work, I say you are blind and just as guilty. And yet there is little to be guilty about. Unless one is gratuitously reliant on the system for their identity and survival, then one cannot be blamed for dipping their toes in the system’s murky water. Utilizing the system is simply a material act, and the point of this series is to cultivate a mindset away from material, towards thought about the acts themselves. What’s outside of the system is your thoughts, and ones own ingenuity can emancipate them emotionally from a lot of unnecessary toil. To paraphrase John Michael Greer, why would I waste my finite energy on worrying about that which I cannot change (the system), when I could be using it on that which I 100% can change…myself!

Exiting the system in an instant is extremely dangerous. And guess what, the system doesn’t care if you do or don’t. It doesn’t think about you, it only notices your productive and consumptive inputs and outputs, so why not use the system to as much of your own advantage as possible? As long as it doesn’t cause another’s life to become miserable, I say drain the system of its energy, it would do – and does – the same to you in a machinic-heartbeat. And so, do not drop-out in any romantic fashion, often ruining your life in the process, but plan, wait and find ways to work within the system until you find a chance of exit. In the meantime, cultivate a mindset which the system loathes, one which this system cannot fathom, a mindset which enchants the world!

The system takes you – often quite literally – as a number. This is something you will have to put up with, but as such, you are also someone the system will have to put up with. I am most definitely not stating any form of activism here, that word is cursed. Nor am I for rebellion, protesting, marches, vandalism or manifesto-making – if you’re doing these after 15 you need to grow up and actually do something, not just act as if you are. So what can you do then? Well, back to being a number. Everything in the system is ordered, numerical or quantifiable. A loaf of bread = X, there’s 3 Y in Z, a car does X amount of miles, this straight road is X miles long etc. The system thrives on that which it can control in some quantifiable way. This is exactly why it hates humans so much, they’re – as children at least – free and spontaneous, and it’s very difficult to control something which is unpredictable. I call this form of spontaneity or freedom, ‘enchantment’. What the system wishes to do is to dis-enchant your world, to make you dis-believe all the quirky things you used to, make you believe it’s way of doing things is in fact the only way. Of course it isn’t.

Practice: You are allowed to do as you please. Even the most subtle act of rebellion can cause ruptures. There are acts which seem as if they wouldn’t change a thing, but in their subtly they teach people that they can in fact…just do that if they want to. What am I talking of here? Well, as a semi-eccentric theorist (Read-by-normies: Nutjob, oddball, weirdo) I’m fairly used to trying our peculiar things – usually body experiments relating to diet and breathing. Ever have someone walk in on you meditating in your undies, it certainly shows them that there are indeed people who do these things, ever had someone question why you drink honey and boiling water at night (I like it), same goes for any kind of strange tea or beverage, food or pastime. Your practice to sincerely admit to someone something you do that you consider peculiar. Enjoy reading Norse Mythology, let ’em know. Enjoy watching those 14 hour train journey videos, explain to your colleagues why. You believe in fairies…for real, let ’em know. The point of this exercise is to instill in yourself the idea that:

1. You’re in control. 

2. You can just do stuff, if you want to.

3. To teach others that the world isn’t as stagnant as it seems.

4. To help others break out from the think layer of repressive gunk covering their brains and lives.

There’s always something to be said for holding your corner. Even if no one listening agreed, even if they all thought you were odd, it was worth it. You found that they’re either not the people for you or aren’t confident enough to come out of their shell. You also might have found a quiet supporter who didn’t want to speak up, but felt happier that you did. There is a lot to be said for admitting your supposedly weird outlooks publicly, if not only because it might have made it clear to someone listening that they are not alone, even though, with all their heart, they believed they were.

 

Exiting Modernity – 4 – Neo-Asceticism

If when you walk into a supermarket you don’t have a deep feeling of revulsion, terror and absurdity, I have news for you, you’re very much still within the system. In the same way there’s nothing smart about smartphones, there’s nothing super about supermarkets. The word itself implies that it’s a market which is super, in reality of course this is a complete lie. Many of you may have been to an actual market, you get multiple options of the same product usually from people who make the product, you can learn about what it is you’re going to consume. Whereas in a supermarket you’re basically entering a racket. If you don’t buy their products, from their chosen selection you’re shit out of luck. Eat this, or die. That might seem a tad reactionary to those who’ve yet to think about the way the world works for more than a second, but ask yourself, if tomorrow the supermarkets didn’t have food, where would you get it from? There’s two issues here, one on relating to one’s reliance on industry and the other relating to one’s attachment to brands and desires. I wont be extrapolating on the first issue here, the second has been expanded upon in post one, but here I shall add a little more theory and a lot more practice.

The practice I’m about to speak of will seem somewhat extreme, but once you begin it becomes cathartic and you shed the baggage of modernity quite quickly. It’s an idea I’ve roughly hashed out in my mind, written of in one post here, and shall finally write of in some length now. The idea is called Neo-Asceticism. I more often than not detest the ‘neo’ label on almost everything it has attached itself to: Neo-Dada, Neo-Luddite etc. Usually it’s a way of stating that you are something (Dadaist, Luddite) but wish to make it a new, usually because you wish to make some money or become popular. The prefix neo- should, as such, always be of suspicion. However, I must expand upon Neo-Asceticism to justify my claim here.

“Asceticism is a lifestyle characterized by abstinence from sensual pleasures, often for the purpose of pursuing spiritual goals. Ascetics may withdraw from the world for their practices or continue to be part of their society, but typically adopt a frugal lifestyle, characterised by the renunciation of material possessions and physical pleasures, and time spent fasting while concentrating on the practice of religion or reflection upon spiritual matters.” (Wikipedia)

We’ve heard of these ascetics, monks living in the mountains surviving off donations of food and meditating for days on end. That isn’t what I’m getting here. See, if one is to read that Wikipedia article you notice that the large majority of Asceticism took place prior to the 18th century, in a world where sensual and material pleasures had not reached anywhere near the normalcy they have within our current society. Ascetics it seems were commonplace in ancient times, it was understood that there were those who took it upon themselves to exit as thoroughly as possible. What is of importance here is what they were exiting from. Historically ascetics were not leaving anything close to the absolute hellscape we inhabit now (there are exceptions of course, Gandhi, for instance). They were reacting to a life that most people nowadays would consider pretty bare-bones, so the Ascetic’s task was of course spiritual.

So where the Neo- of Neo-Asceticism takes its stand is in the combination of Asceticism and contemporary modes of normalcy. Neo-Ascetics understand that to want less within current times is to covertly state that one wishes to exit the system. For the religion of the system’s entire is Progress, all believe that Progress is good and more Progress is good, and so to state, as the Neo-Ascetic does, that one should question their desires, want for less, consume less and perform a daily critique of production and consumption is to question the great God Progress. In this manner Neo-Ascetics understand the arrow of techno-cultural progression is forever aimed towards more and more progress, and so the Neo-Ascetics task is not an active one in the traditional sense, but an action brought about by contrarian passivity. We cannot physically exit the system – individually – by following the arrow of Progress, nor can we exit by performing some archaic notion of revolution, nostalgically looking back towards some primitive time. What the Neo-Ascetic does is become mindful, especially in relation to habits of desire.

The Neo-Ascetic understands the predicament they are in and does not allow themselves to become frustrated at their situation, but merely stares into the heart of need and sweats of its false desires like a short lived fever. When the Neo-Ascetic walks into a supermarket they do not treat it as the average Joe does, as a form of therapy, a communal ground of interest and intrigue, a place that one wants to be in, no. The Neo-Ascetic perceives the supermarket (and all mass shopping) for what it is, one’s inability to be bored and alone converted into purchase. Needs are not bought out of boredom, desires are. The Neo-Ascetic prepares for the casino-esque mental barrage emanated by the supermarket and stares internally, not allowing themselves to succumb to the pull of – seemingly – random urges.

You may believe that the pursuit of the Neo-Ascetic is overblown, that I am silly for making a simply shopping trip seem like a spiritual hurdle. Well more fool you for disallowing enchantment into your life. Everything is related to one’s path in life, and how you deal with the most simply dilemmas is how you shall deal with the big ones; how you do one thing is how you do all things. As such it is the task of the Neo-Ascetic to both be aware of his habits with regard to consumption, but to also be mindful of the ways in which he is pulled to and fro by the dynamics of consumption itself. To ask oneself why they thought for a second they needed that X, Y or Z.

The Neo-Ascetic doesn’t have to go to great lengths to become sturdy in their frame. They needn’t walk off into the woods or mountains and eat bugs for the rest of their life, however, there are thoughts, patterns and habits they need to become aware of. Quite frankly, all purchases are up for scrutiny. From buying vegetables, to buying petrol. Buying vegetables one might think of where they came from, why do they buy those particular ones, how much they cost and why they want them…who told them they needed them? Buying petrol one might think of why you need to constantly buy it and whether or not that purchase has become a matter of assumption as opposed to what one actually wants. Once the Neo-Ascetic begins to perform this mindfulness a few times it will become quite easy, even fun. You’ll find quite quickly that much of what you own and buy is additional.

The distinction between the Ascetic and the Neo-Ascetic begs further emphasis. The Ascetic adopts an extremely frugal lifestyle as to avoid the distractions of material as a means for spiritual enlightenment. Whereas the Neo-Ascetic adopts an extremely critical attitude towards material as a means to shed the distractions of modernity itself, the Neo-Ascetic doesn’t wish for spiritual enlightenment – in their role as a Neo-Ascetic – but wishes only to use frugality and critique as a means to return to a self which modernity hasn’t tampered with.

It used to be that to deny TV, junk food, mass-medication, drugs, alcohol and the libertine-lifestyle was merely to state that one was not interested in that which the modern had to offer, the quick, the easy, the thoughtless pursuits marketed to empty minds. And maybe this is now simply a matter of repetition, but to deny these comforts is not seen as denying the extra, but it as seen as denying the norm, the standard, the default. If one is to not have a TV, if one sleeps on the floor, wears the same clothes, eats simple meals, does not drink or do drugs, then that person is seen as an outsider. Such a fate is inevitable, and if you don’t wish to become somewhat fringe, then this path isn’t for you – but you wouldn’t be here if you weren’t already doubting all this. Who is your master, comfort and normalcy, or your own will?

Exiting Modernity – 1 – The Practice of Exit

This will be the series that garners some attention. That might sound like an arrogant statement, but the truth is, I know that people love the repetitions that I will be expounding upon within this series. Exit, escape, anti-consumption, dropping-out, freedom, perspective-change etc. The average Joe[1] loves that stuff. The problem with these actions are that they are exactly that, actions. Now, I’m not actually implying some form of political revolutionary praxis here…far from it. What I’m going to be talking about here is the why and how of personal, individual practice. Because much like learning a language, a trade, magick, a skill, meditation or anything else worth its salt, it is always something that has to be practiced, in that manner one has to be constantly (or as much as possible) practicing the worldview I will be expanding upon. If you think, for just a second (I know it’s hard) on any of those ideas I just put forth: Exit, escape, dropping-out, perspective-change etc. you’ll notice that each one of these in its stagnant form as language is actually a semantic trick. In their existence as written/digital words they seem so complete, finished, done, something you can just clip-on, wear, accessorize or acquire, even, dare I say it…purchase.

It’s been there since you were little, this idea in the back of your mind that basically anything you need/want can simply be acquired via some form of purchase. Whether that’s knowing the right people, having the right amount of money or doing the correct amount of work. Well here’s a sombre lesson for you my friends, meaning doesn’t exist on any form of binary barter system. You consume TV, you subconsciously consume adverts, consume education (commented on in length in a later post), consume ideals and consume notions, traits and habits. Up until now all unquestioned, I make these assumptions about you because I wish someone had made them about me, caused me to well up in a rage and explode in a bout of cathartic frustration at the situation bottled up – I want to leave, and I don’t know how!

There are some things that of course cannot be purchased, this we are told time and time again by those attempting to sell us those things. Can’t put a price on love says the dating app, can’t buy happiness says the holiday company, can’t put a price on peace says the cover of that new Mindfulness book. The best things in life are free! Is belting out of the radio, right before the adverts start. Of course, this notion of ‘free’ is in relation to cost and not constriction. If we turn that phrase a on its head just a little and take the implication that the best things in life are free (as in freedom, not free beer), then we’re getting closer to the idea that I am beginning with here.

When I state that ‘exit’ needs to be practiced I mean it, for exiting, dropping out and changing your perspective are all processes and anything process based generally needs to be practiced, no man ever got the performance, ritual or action correct on his first try, exiting – which is the word I’ll use throughout this series to denote what has been historically entitled ‘Dropping out of society’ – is not an event in itself, it can’t be, otherwise it is simply a movement. One is either consistently exiting, stuck or – in very rare cases – individually enlightened/content/at peace with the cosmos. You harboring the ideals of anarchists and egoists in itself is not exit is it? You cannot stop there, otherwise all you have done is grown a little narcissism. You can now go around and look at how dumb everyone is, even though you’re still within the same spaces of them, what have you applied?

An early digression here on revolution, communal action and mass praxis. I am not for them. Shock horror, this isn’t another one of those blogs, the ones which extrapolate on the same bullshit leftism deus ex machina, or in this case deus ex civitas. Just because there’s a lot of you doesn’t mean that it will change anything. Communal action is fantastic in relation to the local. Other than that it’s merely the act of selling out your own need for discipline to the herd. Yes, that’s right, even your perfect social justice group is a herd, even you anti-group-think punks are a herd, any group aligned behind a clear political motive should be suspicious to you, to your self. What do they want with me? What are they doing that I couldn’t have done myself? Let us turn to a short analysis of one of my favorite poems to show you the perils of group-think:

Archaic Torso of Apollo – Rainer Maria Rilke

     We cannot know his legendary head

with eyes like ripening fruit. And yet his torso
is still suffused with brilliance from inside,
like a lamp, in which his gaze, now turned to low,

gleams in all its power. Otherwise
the curved breast could not dazzle you so, nor could
a smile run through the placid hips and thighs
to that dark center where procreation flared.

Otherwise this stone would seem defaced
beneath the translucent cascade of the shoulders
and would not glisten like a wild beast’s fur:

would not, from all the borders of itself,
burst like a star: for here there is no place
that does not see you. You must change your life.

Rilke here writing of a decaying marble statue that has lost its head, but in every other way it is perfect, beautiful. You can never know the head of the movement you’re ‘within’, because much like the way in which contemporary politics has been taken (on a ride not entirely of its own creation) all herds are either without a shepherd, or cannot spot the man who is herding him, as such, “We [you] cannot know his legendary head”. You are however a part of the brilliance of the torso, that entire which supports the head (the vision, the direction) itself, and so, you must change your life.

Why do you not simply cast yourself off from the directionless torso of the masses and birth yourself a new as an individual head? The reason is quite simple. Being part of a group takes no action, discipline or responsibility on your part, or any part of the others, hence why herds are like Apollo’s torso, perfectly sculpted, but nothing without a head to sculpt it. The head can exist unto itself.

In this manner consumerism is a torso without the possibility of head, for the multitude of (falsely created) desires can never find a coherent direction, it is a multiplicity of bullshit symbols and expectations. Be wary that you don’t fall for its trap of expecting something to just happen. These are the images they sell you, these are the symbols with base meaning. Purchasing clothes, a new car, a big house, fancy books, fancy food, the latest phone or any other detritus of modernity is not only the act of purchasing a distraction, but the act of purchasing a distraction which allows you to feel as if you have taken responsibility.

Instead of taking the time to learn about your local surroundings and history you buy a car to drive from new place to new place, instead of learning how to cook you buy take out or junk food, instead of learning about your own body and what it can do you buy fancy clothes to cover up your own failings, instead of learning to think for yourself you buy a big TV to think for you. These objects of modernity are conclusions which allow you the illusion of taking responsibility for your life, when in reality you have done the exact opposite, you have sold yourself, your time, to the laziness of your whim, to whichever random subconscious falsely created desire took hold that day. You hope, you scroll, you search for that thing which will be the final thing to complete everything, the final car, house, TV, book etc. ‘This will be the one’ you think subconsciously, but it never is.

Why do you do this? Because the last sentence of Rilke’s final stanza You must change your life is most likely your worst nightmare. And it is easier to change literally anything else, than change your self. You know how painful that’s going to be, you know how difficult it’s going to be, and in those moments of terror you retreat into your comforts. This is why, as I stated earlier, one must practice exit. There can be no object of exit. Exit is only a conclusion in the sense that it opens your mind to new avenues of thought. If your taken exit has lead you into a dead-end, or locked room, you’ve been duped. Nothing which leaves you stuck or stagnated can be considered exit. If you feel you are existing on the sidelines of life, the answer is not to be found within objects or material, but in personal, individual experience.

Practice: In the same way that you have control over whether or not you buy that Marvel figure, you also have control over whether or not you don’t, or even care about such a thing – you even have such control over your actions that you stop and ask, ‘Do I actually enjoy/like/want to do this or am simply being pulled by something?’ Of course the primary reason you’ve done/acquired any of these things is because you believe in some form of status, or, you believe you are being watched. For if you are being watched, you matter, you’re worth watching, you exist. Ask yourself if this actually matters? Do you sincerely care what other people think of you? How much time do you spend thinking of yourself as opposed to thinking about other people? Probably around 90-95% of the time, right. As such, other people are usually doing the same, ergo, they’re not thinking of you. No one fucking cares about your shit. Do things with yourself, your body, experience life, even in the most minor, inconsequential ways – not because you wish to be watched, recorded or envied, but because experience is at the heart of existence, and personal experience can neither be sold, bought or commodified.

You must practice exit as much as you possibly can, and at its cantankerous heart exit is simply a matter of questioning, critiquing, deconstructing and destroying presumptions, whether they’re social, cultural, political, personal or familial – You can leave, the only reason you don’t is because your current comfort supposedly outweighs the risk of exit, this is sunk cost. Ask yourself a couple of questions, firstly: What’s worse, existing in an almost comatose state of being for the sake of comfort for the rest of your life, or taking a risk and attending to the dangerous heart of true experience? And secondly: Were you really put on this Earth to be fucking comfy? Or, in short: Is it worth prolonging a life you detest?

But much like anything that has to be practiced mastery takes time, and mastery of exit isn’t something that can ever truly be attained, at least in an abstract sense. Of course, if your ideal exit is a homestead, van-dwelling, country-living etc. then sure, go for it. But don’t forget to question those assumptions too. In this manner Exit is critique. By practice I mean question, and by question I mean everything. Modernity is a culmination of rackets that provide you with presumptions, presumptions which make you anxious, depressed, lonely and alienated, unless of course you buy into the presumption, the comfortable, herd-accepted assumption that you need X, Y and Z to be normal. Modernity created your inner anxiety and also created its purchasable cure, Exit allows one to bypass the cure and destroy the idea of infection; Modernity is Oz behind the curtain, and currently you’re admiring his tricks.

 

[1] A note on the concept of ‘The Average Joe’. I don’t seriously think such an average person exists, everyone is unique in some way, and I don’t mean that in a ‘everyone is special’ soppy way. Only that, everyone’s journey through life has been unique and as such that makes the conception of average as a unified truth, impossible. With that said, such an idea in relation to what Nietzsche called ‘The Herd’ most definitely does exist. The average Joe, as I see it, is someone who simply has never – even in the most minor way – questioned their presumptions about life, and as such they’re entire existence is a manner of being pulled by whichever force has the greatest pull at that moment, be it a Marvel film, a margherita pizza or a lifelong career, in needn’t matter, the average Joe is unquestioning.

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.

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

 

///

 

Capitalism & the Undead P2: Animality Unbound

INTRODUCTION

We move from the slow, ambling undead towards a new mode of flux. Away from the easily structured modernities, the fluorescent, clean buildings and the tinny red blood. We shall be cast from the murmurs, the drooling hedonistic masses; those so easy to avoid. We will find a new hunger, insatiable and violent. A physicality born from thoughtless material-gain. A literal breed of consumer. Organic consumer capitalists, grown from the land.

THE DEAD NEXT DOOR (1989)

We begin with a cult film, with cult elements. A new direction towards the consumer, the acceptance of such, people will consume and so it simply is, the fight is lost almost before the film has even begun. A concentration not on defence against the consumer, but on assimilation with their needs, their wants…their desires. A structured society that has a place for zombies.

Down through twisting rural roads, to the corner stores of suburbia and within the concrete metropolis’; the undead have become clutter, small fragments of a larger whole, littering the world, scraping and bashing into everything, consuming all they contact, an accepted virus. A world without blood cells of white, a world that has forgotten the possibility for protection and thus accepts. Sometimes, gratefully.

As with any formal society divides begin against ‘whatever-it-may-be’, those who are fine with, and those who are not fine with, extremists of left and right, with those on the fence only being consumed. To not make a decision is to be infected by a virus worse than death. The Zombie Squads replicate replace the police in this film, mobilizing and hunting vagrant biters, jay-walkers get shot down, undead squatters evicted with death.

“The thing’s head’s off its body for Christ’s sake, doesn’t it know that?”

No, it doesn’t, consume, consume, consume.

There is the opposite, as there always is, those against those who are for, protecting the zombie’s right to exist, to not be used and experimented on, to not be round up and controlled for gain of another. Surrounding squad-stations and government buildings, armed with placards and speeches, reminiscent of a counter-culture, hoards of protesters, a small mass infecting others with their own non-brand.

It can be just a brain. A literal brain, surrounded by its own mucus casing, a pulsating red vessel, void of all nutrition and stimulation, a mere gear to be turned by that which passes by, taking in and then…nothing. The brain becomes an organ of use, machinery to be utilized, plugged in and wired up to a system built with malicious intent, an ignorant capsule bowled at an economic circuit-board.

A slave-virus with one directive: to consume, or feed. If unfed the user will die, the virus, wholly its own, survives without the user. A malignant consumerist alien feeding on your soul until you die. It has no other objective. To use up, to spit out and continue. The sputum of humanity.

28 DAYS LATER (2002)

A medicinal beginning. Caged ancestors infected with rage, the archaic remnants of homo-sapiens locked away, animalistic behaviours behind lock & key. Descendants tied down and forced to watch the work of their worst offspring, plugged into direct-horrors, a brain-feed into the worst of a Race. The categorical begins to poke at our unconscious, the chained Id tested and vulnerable. The outside seeps in, a thin quiet mist of infinite enters, with the purpose of evolutionary deconstruction: animality unbound.

To avoid the terror one must destroy feeling. To avoid the reality one must become a new. To avoid reality one must consume. Coma or not one has to awaken in a new world. Lost and alone, attempting to find real people, subtle, nuanced, 3 dimensional humans who still have Being. To move freely in a city without a bump, money strewn, food a plenty, survival a mere gimmick against trinkets and toys.

THE END IS NIGH. A repetition of any apocalypse, except, the apocalypse came and went, no one noticed; the time to invest in death. The churches reverse into themselves, Hell is overcrowded so they burst up and into the sacred. Temples now breeding grounds, disease centres, concentrated spaces of the Antichrists’ brethren. The priest walks out, a saviour in the dark, and as he comes into the light his bones become not his, his muscles flare and his teeth expand, hope is lost, you are nowhere and no one is coming.

To run from salvation is the step before the endless. One must re-enter the underground, meaning only exists when something is there to give it such, but if one is too pre-occupied with simple survival, then the environment simply becomes objects within space. Homo-sapiens occupying a world void of meaning, chased from their own minds by an empty hoard.

“Plans are pointless, staying alive is as good as it gets.”

A small glimmer of life atop a new tower, the last remaining kernel of human life resides in a grey block amidst a desert of hollow beings. Trolleys meant for collecting stacked 10 high, once used by the undead to consume more & more, now used by the living to defend themselves. A barrier of consumerist memories.

A simple visit to a food store, one time, for survival is as good as it gets, necessities only, then, into flux, mobility and survival, always. Mental survival, the ability to disallow the infection in, not even as thought, to kill a consumer is to kill nothing, it is to shoot the air. The undead die, nothing changes. An empty death for an empty existence. The roof a wash with empty buckets, the living get handed nothing, for the world is not theirs. The world is no longer alive.

Watching the horses frolic, alive in their own world, Frank watches intently, the image a temporary vaccine against the undead. The grass a colour known only to the living, the breeze a temperature felt by those who can feel and the sky existing only for those who know what it’s like to exist.

A single drop of the virus and one shall turn, the most loving and compassionate human will change in an instant. Now the loving has gone and one must feed. Family, friend, both only a thing to be consumed, something to be used only to prolong one’s own life. Narcissistic entities existing in a perpetual empty landscape.

The virus is contagious anew. Virus-assimilation via proximity, to live within the world of the undead one has to become part-undead. It can take you over, you get a consumerist lust, the supposed wants and needs infect your mind, and so you turn, and you justify your cause, until you can do so no longer.

DAWN OF THE DEAD (REMAKE, 2004)

Time has passed since the original mall, the mall of Americana, the tubular bright lights, the advert jingles, the colours found only in certain eras. Gone are the rambles and bored groans of green-tinted zombies, the tongue-in-cheek humour, the possibility of friendship. Welcome to the new improved zombie, the consumerist 2.0, one whose memories never were, and if they were, they were implanted.

An idyllic neighbourhood, the perfect job, the protector of the community, the children, the fitness, the sport and the caring. All infected beyond return. The virus shall inherit values, it shall evolve morality into its own being. It shall take what you know to be true, destroy it, blend it into a phlegm-paste and force-feed you with it. And until you beg for more, until you either die, or beg to eat shit, the virus shall not stop.

A return to the familiar, the Mall, the transcendent home of the consumer, building as encapsulation of intent: we know you think you want to consume, so we made a place to reinforce your belief. The undead run this time, their thirst for the original is energized. The hunger more insatiable, the hoards larger, the uncontrollable hedonism, the ignorance sprayed.

“Why’d you think they come here?”

“Memory maybe, instinct, maybe they’re coming for us.”

Perhaps the virus is airborne, for these humans seem dumb, ignorance towards the intent of others, the belief that those that do not know, in fact do know. The belief that everything might end up OK, the belief that there will be an end that they can conceive, the belief that, in short, the world is still theirs.

There’s another, aside from the group, a street over, atop a roof. “May as well be on the moon.”. The alive are so few. Originality is an impossibility. To find another amongst the mess of the unthinking. One shall only see new possibilities from afar, what is possible is out of reach, to attempt anything new, original or lifelike is to risk death. Before you reach an idea to be spread, the many shall eat you whole. If you ever even think of trying something, the skin shall be ripped from your bones, like gum from the underside of a school-desk.

“When there is no more room in hell, the dead shall walk the earth.”

The evolution takes place under the noses of the alive. An undead mother giving birth to an undead child. A human-turned-consumer giving birth to a little consumer child. There’s no longer need for a virus, with this mutation, we have become a virus. From spawn we need falsities. From birth we are anchored to a nothingness of our own creation. Torn from the womb and cast into a sprawling slum of narcissism, greed, guilt, plastic, chemicals, imprints, replication, simulacrums, chambers, systems and structures. Hope does not want us.

One has to become sporadic, reach for an organic weaponization, strive for a fusion of nomadic-survivability, turn to possibilities oceanic in scale, turn to realities larger than clusters. Grow shields for limbs, our organs must turn liquid and flow into the channels of the like-minded. We must, at all costs, accelerate evolution. To avoid becoming a zombie, first one must truly not want to become one, not even glimpse at the possibility of an undead existence. One shy look towards the life of a consumer and one has already turned.

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Capitalism and the Undead P1: The Romero Era

INTRODUCTION:

Consumerism and the Undead may have perhaps been a more fitting title for the following series, however I feel that the symbolism often branches into more nuanced areas of political discourse, thus Capitalism feels…right. In this 3 part series I shall be looking at the progression of capitalism/consumerism as an underlying motif/theme is zombie films, beginning with the classic George A. Romero era of zombie horror films, through to modern day high-budget action horrors. The evolution, mutation and gradual change in and of the characteristics of zombies in general is not just intentional, but a natural reflection of the society in which the film resides. Thus when one watches a zombie film, one bears witness to the masses-of-the-times, the sprawling unthinking decay, the unavoidable mutations of thought under capitalism.

How these ‘parts’ end up is entirely up to them. They will not be a critical synopsis of the films, as this has been done to death and is simply not my job, neither will be they be in line with my REDUX posts in their obscurity an abstract-nature, I wish to use popular horror films as a basis for lucid-critical engagement with consumerist though and the consumerist ‘way of life’.

THE UNDEAD:

The undead, zombies, biters, walkers, infected, etc. The idea has many names, yet they all reflect one kind of entity, a brainless consumer. Who’s entire directive is purely to consume another’s flesh and brains, to consume another’s originality, or simply to consume. Usually zombies come about via the spread of a virus or infection, I may look into the ways in which the virus comes about, however I feel it’s the manifestation of the virus that is of importance here. A walking, slurring infected husk, a shadow of a human being, a failed clone of humanity, an evolutionary body aborted at the last minute, a humanoid being with everything human taken from it.

EARLY ZOMBIE FILMS:

Between 1932 and 1968 there were many zombie films, beginning with Victor Halperin’s White Zombie (1932), considered by many to be the first in which ‘zombies’ as we popularly know them now are used, however it’s not until Romero’s work in the late 60’s that zombies come into their own as a key symbolic element of popular entertainment, it’s not until the late 60’s that the zombies of films are watched by their real-world counterparts, the risen-dead (the undead) acting out cannibalistic desires towards society.

NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1968)

Night of the Living Dead, the quintessential beginners guide to reanimated cannibalistic corpses. The beginning of an entire genre taking its first slow drawn out steps in a graveyard, a hollow quote that never leaves the mind of any true horror fan “They’re coming to get you Barbara.” And with that, they begin to come…and get us. It’s quite apt that the first film of its kind is based solely around one night, a snapshot of the cadaver apocalypse, this proto-film is a glimpse of what is to come and what is ‘outside’ the house in which Barbara and the cast reside for the film’s length. Within the house is the firm glimpse at a strange motif that carries through all zombie films, get above them, whether it’s upstairs, in a helicopter or atop a skyscraper, being literally above zombies is always necessary, to look down upon the consuming masses is of course a pleasurable feat, for us who know we are not on their level.

To lock oneself away with like-minded others in a worn-out house, rural, tucked away, they shall never find us here, they are the problem. We must get above them, the mindless hoards of hollow entities, to be underground is dangerous, to stay still is dangerous. As the group are torn from their artificial womb one-by-one, as the infection spreads to friends and friends of friends, you see your closest bow down to the nothingness of unthought, and so you lock yourself away in a cellar armed only with you. With only your brains, the thing they want is the thing keeping you you, for they shall remove the origin of you. And thus you become the they.

DAWN OF THE DEAD (1978)

I didn’t concentrate too much on Night of, as I feel Dawn of the Dead is the real father of the genre, with it’s baby acting as a prototype, a blueprint.

The infection, the consumer, you will not be scared of at first, they will appear an uncanny human to you, attempting to lure you into their unalloyed hedonistic appetite. And with a bite the relation to your right or left – neither matter in an instant – becomes only food, only the desire to consume everything for your own personal gain matters, to fit in with the crowd and consume with them, for brains are desired and create desire simultaneously, an all-absorbing feedback loop. Think not for yourself simply consume the thoughts of others and drool some more.

As Flyboy in his helicopter begins his journey with the group to the consumerist nirvana – the mall – he notices the “Rednecks are having a field day…” those who never bought into consuming before wont buy into it now, and flock to their own brand of identity and rebel against the mindless in-take easily. The southern-vibe as anti-capitalist is an easy lay. Different groups of unthought for different collective purposes.

Why the brain? Why-oh-why does a zombie only die after being shot in the brain? That’s where the idea is stored, the fuel for the never-ending cog of a consumer identity, the belief that to be is to belong, that to win is to own, more. Hollow humanistic shells without organs, no structure except that which tells them what to do, they only need breath, eat, shit, piss, fuck and enjoy if they give into an externally programmed desire, a desire which always has a malicious agenda.

And as the zombie bites a human the infection that flows past the cog flows too, into their veins, acidic and tinny, sliding into the ducts and destroying the not-needed. Fuelled only by the originality of others, the destruction of a single means the assimilation of another into the larger, with each ego-death their strives a further chance of complete cultural purification, all for the single aim of hedonistic-consumer desire. Race, gender, age, physicality etc. etc. and so on are no longer divided but merged into a pliable dough, given to CEO-hands. And then it’s over.

They enter the Mall from the roof, sliding down into the consumer-nirvana, settling safely into a side room. They box themselves in with food, humans in a small room next to tins of meat, tinned meat…meat in a small space. “Why do you think they come here?” “Memory, perhaps?” Memory, or present? A human walks to the mall and buys and eats and drinks and consumes because….why? A zombie walks to the mall and eats and eats and eats and consumes because that’s just what a zombie does? OK. And so the line blurs and fringe groups become nano-anomalies.

The power is turned on, the dynamism excites the shells of flesh, which ones? The store windows are lit, the tubular bulbs glow bright, the attractions spin and entertain a mass, a mass of beings they view as no different, a mass whose purpose is to be entertained. As pathetic legs give way on escalators, ponds splash with the hit of the dead, a concentration on the stable mannequin.

Those on the semi-outside, those not-undead, those still alive still have to live within this world, survival still has its origins, only now there are two kinds of survival: One in having to literally keep breathing, two is having to stay sane in yourself amongst the murmurs of the undead surrounding.

Those alive grab a cart for the essentials and enter the new halls for the undead, buildings, rooms and floors meant for zombies, a controlled architecture helping guide the frozen culture around and around, a circular life is aimless and also pointless, but for one to throw the idea of meaning in there, that is a tyranny. And the muzak plays.

In their successful attempt to gain supplies one of the group becomes aware, aware of his own possibility to fit in, the inside in warm and easy, to be undead is to be alive and not-think, what a beautiful state of being he thinks, many think…most think. And so he goes insane, to remain with a few in a tension, or to fall lustfully into the welcome, the embrace of a mass, the split causes insanity and weakness prevails. Next you wake up and you are dead, then undead, and you cannot go back.

And the mall begins to bore the alive, for they do not fit in here, the toys and entertainment work only short term for those with form. Those of us with originality have little time for lights and gimmicks; and the zombies keep going, the same trinkets and toys tussled with over and over. The alive now at terminal boredom sit and wait, not once pondering of a re-entering into the animalistic and chaotic ‘outside’, to sit on the wall is a travesty of spirit.

And so the outside invades, patience cannot be employed and thus can be taken by anyone, the roar of the engines and machinery crashes in, metal into mall, a defence happens. But it is too late, a confusion of states occurs and a realisation of non-belonging begins, a merging of kinds into a uniform blob of violence for-the-sake-of begins; and zombies are dotted, waiting for an entry, still ready to take.

As the many fall and organs spill, preferences also tumble, and the zombies begin to eat shit, intestines empty into the mouths of morons, for they know no better and think of this as a fruit of origin.

It is either head to the outside or commit suicide, for some simply cannot become-mass.

DAY OF THE DEAD (1985)

To begin with the nightmare of a consumerist force so strong it can literally penetrate your private space/residence, enter into your diary, your thoughts, your memories…your dreams. Your desires are not your own.

Once again the undead are awakened into their dynamic via noise, entertainment draws them near, nothing substantial, not even a coherence, just a vacant loud-noise interests them, they hear not a noise but something they can consume making a noise, originality THIS WAY.

The base underground this time, surrounded by a wire-mesh fence which holds away hundreds of the undead. This time the alive enter not into the hive itself, but shy away, leaving the existence of humanity underground a pathetic whimper against the mass above.

Within the underground there are pressures, tensions between the alive, towards a direction, militaristic, scientific, philosophic? Everyone is at each other’s throats, above and around are the undead and humans still bicker. The aggressive-passion turns inwards, towards each other.

The experiments are underway, conditioned so a zombie can survive simply from a stem and a brain, a vessel to be filled with organ-structure, the brain a pulsating remnant of what it should be. Primordial-instinct is replaced with a consumer instinct, to buy and consume is to breath and eat. “It can be conditioned to behave the way we want it to behave.”

“All the shopping malls are closed.”

It’s in the streets now, the infection creeps into the world unnoticed, unchained and released from its source, its haven, infecting everything it comes into contact with, a cultural poison of hedonism, consumerism and cultism.

And Bub comes into focus, a new kind of zombie, one that remembers his past, what it was like to have ideas of his own, to think and feel and act as he wants, but still, he is to be trained, moulded by science and disciplined by the military, from his mindless slumber he wakes and in an instant a gun is shoved into his hand. His is taught how to shoot, but more importantly who to shoot at.

The experiments go south, the Dr runs out of food and toys for the undead, he begins to feed them their own, the undead regurgitating what they will once again digest, a consumer cycle, flesh-in, flesh-out, shit-in, shit-out…then shit back in again.

Bub escapes his chains, entering a simulacrum of the outside, unsure of his meaning and thus aimless in his escape, to escape for the sake of escaping, into what, a nothingness you know not of. He finds his carer dead and with that his questions fall silent.

It’s suicide or a state of flux. One must keep moving amongst such a degenerative force. To stand still means death, death by fitting in. The ‘in’ is death.

And so Romero gives us the push-overs, zombies one can nudge out of the way, walk by without distracting them. They claw and slowly grind towards originality, yet not at a perverse speed, their place in the world is empty and without dynamic, hollow shells made to search yet not know what for, and thus their desire has been filled by the malicious. The evolution has begun, the mutations creep from left to right, a twisted creature, the relation we want to forget.