Excerpt from #9
“Post-Reality… what the fuck does that MEAN?”
The world has gotten so…meta.
In 2006, Oxford Professor Alan Kirby described the post-postmodern world like this: “This pseudo-modern world, so frightening and seemingly uncontrollable, inevitably feeds a desire to return to the infantile playing with toys which also characterises the pseudo-modern cultural world. Here, the typical emotional state, radically superseding the hyper-consciousness of irony, is the trance – the state of being swallowed up by your activity. In place of the neurosis of modernism and the narcissism of postmodernism, pseudo-modernism takes the world away, by creating a new weightless nowhere of silent autism. You click, you punch the keys, you are ‘involved’, engulfed, deciding. You are the text, there is no-one else, no ‘author’; there is nowhere else, no other time or place. You are free: you are the text: the text is superseded.”
For some, the present looks sweet, like a chocolate/vanilla soft-serve ice cream cone. The past and the future swirl together into an even mixture of delicious chocolate optimism and comforting vanilla nostalgia. For others, the present is just a turd between two slices of Wonder Bread. As William Gibson wrote, “The future is already here — it’s just not very evenly distributed.” For many, work is no longer taking place in reality. People are not pipe-fitters or nurses or short order cooks. They are “foodies” or “gamers” or “Lakers fans” who have their chosen reality interrupted by soulless hours of editing code or slinging lattes for Uber drivers.
Call center workers break away from their digital doldrums and cosplay at Comicons, becoming their favorite CGI super hero, donning foam rubber six-pack abs and wielding absurdly outsized war hammers and blasters. Who are these people? Many aren’t even comic book nerds. In years past, they would have been hockey fans, but now, that brand of spectacle simply isn’t potent enough anymore. Big budget streaming hi-def media labs have cooked our beloved superheroes down, distilling away the impurities of pathos, benevolence and justice, and creating a high-octane crank of pure vengeance. But what are they seeking vengeance for? It was capitalism that murdered their dreams, not Joe Chill.
This past winter, an unholy alliance of mormons and meth victims, high on Jesus, the constitution and the smell gunpowder, occupied a lonely Oregon bird-watching sanctuary, acting out their own brand of cosplay, this time LARPing a redneck reboot of King Leonidas and his 300 Spartans. But, there are no six pack abs there. Beer guts and bad hips, Walmart Realtree® camo and “Molon Labe” meshback caps. Unlike their Comicon cosplaying cousins, these ammosexuals favorite fetish is not realized without real firepower, in the form of cheap AR15 Bushmasters or Chinese Norinco Mac 90s, purchased at county fairground gun shows for a small roll of wrinkled twenties. They too seek vengeance. Their super-villian is also a straw man, a black/mexican/jewish/transgender golem, so sexy and confusing that they must kill it before they succumb to its powers.
Where in the hell has reality gone?
There was a time when cons and cosplay were the realm of misfits and nerds who sought solace from the daily abuse they suffered at the hands of “Norms.” Conspiracy Theorist koo-koo land was an equally exclusive confederacy of dunces. Schizophrenics, acid heads and smart-ass activist college kids got together for an occasional game of intellectual chicken. Now both brands of fantasy are popular, mainstream, commodified and a whole lot less fun. These people aren’t in it for laughs- they think it’s all REAL. Being a cosplayer or conspiracy nut are now viable career paths– no more or less valid than being a “financial analyst,” peddling debt-backed securities.
The term “post-modernism” came into popular use after the first World War, as an attempt to reject the cold totalitarian regimentation of modern society, industrialization and social structures of the “Greatest Generation”. However, the post-modernists succumbed to their own irony and narcissism. Despite it’s efforts to open up western culture, the opposite was the ultimate result. Hippies became yuppies, and America dove farther into Reaganist social stratification. Now, we have passed through photorealism and hyperreality is the norm. VR is here and abstraction is a thing of the past. Everything is now black and white, brought to you in Ultra HD 4K.
According to the great occultist Aleister Crowley, Magick(sic) is “…the science and art of causing change to occur in conformity with will.” By Crowley’s definition, language is Magick (or a virus, according to William Burroughs.) Hacking is Magick. Porn is magick. Virtual reality is Magick, 3D printing is Magick. Bitcoin is Magick. Social media is Magick. Genetic engineering is Magick. Financial instruments are Magick. Capitalism is Magick. Pop music is Magick. Advertising is Magick. We few, we unhappy few, we band of post-postmodern Terran humanoids, have left reality for the Magick Zone. We are entering post-reality… the age of sigils. Our lives are ruled by conceptual semantics and calculus. We no longer live in the territory, but in the map of the territory. The singularity already came and went. It was not a mighty wind blowing techno-utopia into the lives of all humans, but rather a giant, collective Red Bull fart, blown silently into the cushions of a million cheap Staples office chairs by an army of Halo players.
Although information technology has lead to a democratization of access to information and the ability to express ideas, it has also created a class of screen serfs, living, working, shopping and socializing within the digital environment. The expression “meatspace” illustrates the contempt that techno-utopian post-realists have for the realm where real fighting and real fucking happens…where real tragedy and triumph happens. Where real people become real heroes, not by killing zombies or overthrowing the federal government, but by putting the well-being of someone else’s “meatsack” above that of your own.
Fuck Transhumanism… let’s go for Transhumanitarianism (H++).