Warren Ellis on the Silence of the Net

Spider Jerusalem by Warren Ellis and Darick Robertson

Spider Jerusalem from Transmetropolitan – Warren Ellis (author) and Darick Robertson (artist)

from Warren Ellis’s Moring, Computer:

It’s quiet.  My internet generation has a ton of (aching, bruised) muscle memory for communicating and reading in several windows and apps across a couple of devices simultaneously.  The new silence has my muscles twitching, yelling that we’re being lazy, but it’s just because nothing’s happening and nobody is talking.  I read a thing the other day saying that the drop-off in new Twitter users is down to the fact that it’s now so loud that it’s lonely.

I still have the Twitter blip on my sidebar with its little blue-bird sitting there in mid-flight like a speed bump on the undermind of the net. What once seemed a desperate  line of flight into a mad world of interesting topics, daily blips in a networld full of activism and sparks, has given way to the new colonization by the alien machines of corporate ad-verts, and the mindless frogs of the new PC capture systems of soft fascism… a place where the new trolls are the language police who seek out and destroy all speech patterns beyond the confines of the control networks “dictionary of political correctness”. Now begins the downslide of unfreedom and the silencing of fun and satire… and, forget the comic patter – we’ve gone serious in our electronic caves, lost our resilience (another overused simulator).

The living have closed the doors in silence, while the autobots of the new electronic tyranny have martialed a selfie extravaganza and blip culture of stupidity to replace the once hoped for intelligence of the net. The net criers who form coalitions against Twitter thievery of jokes or quotes. Weird science news with scattered tales of biotrans makeovers meant as dehumanist fragments of a minor episode to be caught on YouTube. Fractured displays of former hauntologies – remembering the mindscapes of a tributary childhood where thoughcontrol was just another horror book rather than the latest DARPA initiative. No we’re overloaded with gadgets and lightblip ads that speak of memory enhancement therapies and designer drugs to wile away the mindless days of our lost lives among the wires.

Forget all that, rejoin the edgeworlds of comic books where at least we can still have our cynicism raw and raunchy – a last spark of freedom, healthy and alive. Laughter included. Even a serious message told – a no holds barred world full of that fearless tension of a real edgeculture scoping the byways of a hidden world where liberty grows in the interzones between things…

Everyone has his first entry into the comic schizworlds of Ellisean cybercynicism, mine was his Transmetropolitan series with its gonzoman Spider Jersusalem streaming the pit pools of a transhuman futurama with alien speed-freaks and trippin tattooed angels of a forgotten paradise – a hell in flux meridian tones of psychedelia that spelled nothing more than “we’re never getting out of here alive” or at least – human. Yet, it was the “human” that he kept bringing us back too: all those little ragged foibles and physical blemishes that make us what we are – creatures of unique, if disturbed vitality and personality. The human is that dark part of our self, the affective moments that keep us in touch with each other, the haptic layer that our technotyrants would like to control with their automated scripting and reformatting biotech and neuropsychosis. But we keep wiggling out of the strait-jackets of their infodeath routines. At least we had up to now, but like Ellis one wonders if the native denizens have suddenly fallen silent or just gone brain dead? Have we entered the comatose and catatonic blipworlds of an alternet where machines talk to machines, and the humans just program their avatars to live their lives for them while they hide away in their batman caves like vampires awaiting resurrection day?

But really if you’ve never picked up on Warren Ellis I’ll assume you’re brain dead and gone to rat hell.

Reading the above comments on the state of our overloaded, ad-ridden, selfies dunce generation of cyber-narcissism that’s been slowly pilfering its way into the wired worlds that once held out the promise of – oh, that’s right, what the EFF once proudly pushed as defending “free speech online, fight illegal surveillance, advocate for users and innovators, and support freedom-enhancing technologies”. Sounds more like a corporate propaganda ad for a new toolkit promising you a bright new future if only you’ll pay “out the ass” and let us send you “freedom in a box” – pills, of course – free pharma-chem for a makeover personality you’re sure to love. Freedom. What is that anymore? Speech? Who speaks anymore? Isn’t the net a sort of self-writing machine where apes ping each other in the night?

But now communication overload has entered the dark ages of silence, a silence of pure noise: a world full of selfies and self-promotion, commercial pus bombs scraping the autobots, spam roamers tunneling into one’s very dividual matrix and breaking your netbones into so many ad-campaigns. In other words people are no longer talking to one another, just their bots. “The new silence has my muscles twitching, yelling that we’re being lazy, but it’s just because nothing’s happening and nobody is talking,” says Ellis. This sense that it’s “so loud it’s lonely” rides us like a ghost the moment we enter these electronic vaporwhirls. “Twitching,” a vibrancy of the digital flesh suddenly sparking wildly into life. I notice it myself here in my lonely corner of the blogosphere. Not that it matters. I’m a cyber-loner anyway, part schizomatic hyperman full of crapology trying to make sense of the blip screen of civilization, the spectacle turned inside out where the future replaces the past with pre-fabricated stories to keep us thinking we’re still human. That’s all gone now. We left that cage long ago.

Maybe that’s why I keep returning to the satirists, the comics, the cynics who keep me sane and attuned to that last “rag n bone shop of the heart” (Yeats) that’s my own niche of reality. Reality? I feel like one of Neil Gaiman’s characters who in Neverwhere slipped through the gap into an alternate zone of the real more real than reality, an underworld of danger and freedom where shadows roam and still hint at adventure beyond the repetitious lives we lead in Corporateville.

Ellis in an interview tells:

See, this is the big difference between British comics and American comics: American comics writers grow up reading Superman, Spider-Man, and Batman. And so they think the job is that you grow up and then you get to write Superman, Spider-Man, and Batman. British comics writers grow up with anthologies. The tradition here is weekly anthology comics that constantly turn over new stories and new serials. So British comics writers grow up thinking the job of a comics writer is to invent new stuff all the time.1

That’s it! When I read my own country’s writers, comics, etc. I get the feeling it’s like a machine factory, an assembly line that continuously reproduces the same shit over and over in various forms and angles; like we’re stuck in a world of repetition and death, a static assemblage built out of bits and pieces of a garbage dump – scattered remnants of a lost civilization: one that keeps reminding us that there is no way out, it’s karmaville forever – reruns and black-and-white 50’s episodes of ‘Leave it to Beaver’ till you’re green in the face. While the strangeness comes from something over seas, a sort of alien land of engineers who are part dada, part surreal fabricators of an alternate civilization that seems to work like a viral system of nonsense against the machinic repetitions of our actual lives. It’s alive.

So when Ellis mentions the death of communication I wonder what’s happening, why have we lost the 90’s energy. Has the net suddenly become so ubiquitous, so invisible and commercialized, colonized by the corporatocracy of an alien inhumanism that more and more resembles all these anti-human philosophies that keep telling us we need to turn away from the human, becoming other – wander free of our bodies, our lives, our selves and enter the machinic phylum like swarming borgs from a bad rendition of Star Trek.

What happened to two or more people just talking to each other? The old days of the net where people actually believed we were creating this thing together, an adventure. That’s all dead now. We’re cyberghosts at best, haunted by our own stories of freedom rather than freedom itself. Even my Ventrilo and TeamSpeak channels have gone silent with repeat performances of loneliness and hyper trolling… we’re in the death throes of the Internet that we once thought might bring us a new style of democracy. Instead its been colonized by hyperfascists of an imploded Pynchonian scream vector – “A screaming comes across the sky.”   (Gravity’s Rainbow). No. It no longer touches the “sky,” it’s become a part of the noise, the undiluted digital scream of a final collapse into a realm where “hallucinations and all around assholery” are state of the art messages from our Masters in corporate off-shore havens and gated devilries.

That old image of St. Nick, the Devil, the one John Milton carved out of Pandemonium, the City of Dis, disturbances of a fiery blindsight roams freely among our capital wires now, his bloody lies filtering the soundbytes of our tributary lives like deltapunk molecules modulating our subjectivation into the inhuman world’s of “darkness visible”. We’ve become accustomed to our dark enslavement, living lives like Ballardian time-clones. Sucking up the blipscreen like hungry ghosts trying to feed our mindless zombie lives. Haptic electrodes popping here and there around us reminding us of the tremulous life of our bodies that seem to roam in a world of shadows just out of focus. Our attention held to the flashing lights of iPhone and the instant messages from a friend or stalker, we wander into the deadly streets where the bus rams us with the truth of reality: the hard-core vibrancy of a still-life betrayal of our once human need to believe in our lives in the flesh.

I hear the noise all around me and its full of data that has lost its message. Yet, the scream comes through loud and clear on the lips of an electric life more real than I could have believed…

I must admit I haven’t watched TV for years… I walk into the room where my sister and brother-in-Law are sitting in vegetative silence, eyes peering into the white noise and ask myself: “What is living in the luminous void that has them so hypnotized and bound to the chains of quietude?”

I know the age of print is a done deal. Dead as a doornail. Like a spoof of the Lotro Orc who says: “The age of men is over, now begins the age of Orcs.” I want to change that last word to Machines. We’ve allowed ourselves to become bit players in a Reality TV series that has become not only ‘B’ rated, but includes a final tilt toward ‘F’ for failed and terminal. We’re the generation that let the world slip by us like a vision of Disney’s capital utopia, a realm full of clowns and acrobats, a magic castle full of caramelized candy-canes, Mikey-Mouse and Donald Duck wired to our neurons like tripwires in a festival of last things. We’re the children of our forgotten mythologies… polyvalent Olympians fallen on hard times, believing the world is someone else’s madness we wander our lives like broken songs from the era of Joplin and Baez, Dylan and Hendrix. Victims of our lost desires we dream only in fragments of viral doses of pandemonium. Panic City is our native home and we’re the native minions of desires captured by capital for our Olympian gods, the Elites. Our superheroes line the caves of our Sports and Hollywood cages like bringers not of light but of chaos and violence. Wandering through the blipscreen of another chromatic day we see only the blinkered flicks of reality sprawled across the biosphere of a forgotten thought…

  1. Meaney, Patrick; Thurman, Kevin; Ellis, Warren (2013-09-02). Warren Ellis: The Captured Ghosts Interviews (p. 13). Sequart Organization. Kindle Edition.

4 thoughts on “Warren Ellis on the Silence of the Net

  1. S.C;

    I find the same thing with cable television. I’ve now got hundreds of stations; but, sometimes I search and search and find nothing but inane crap. So, then I turn on a music station and just have smooth jazz or classical playing in the background while I read a book. Uffda…


    • He’s fairly ignorant of the underlying technology of blockchains, decentralization, encryption, and anonymity… strange to not study the technology. Rather he seems to be building a fantasy without mentioning its decentralized and anonymous aspects nor the other anarchic projects in process… bitcoins are passé, it’s the blockchain technology underpinning bitcoins that is evolving. He knows nothing of this, nor addresses this… a leftist intellectual blowing smoke dust about gold and a dead world of commodities.

      I did notice most of the comments pointed out his ignorance. Maybe next time he’ll do a little investigation before spilling his political trivia over a technology he has no clue about.

      He mentions the ‘Ledger’, but then proceeds to develop a theme of insecurity without mentioning Bitcoin Mining.

      Listen to what he says:

      “The great challenge of creating a non-physical, wholly digital, currency is the pressing question: If a currency unit is a string of zeros and ones on my hard disk, who can stop me from taking that string, copying and pasting it as often as I want and become infinitely ‘moneyed’?”

      Right here he has shown his ignorance of the technology of blockchains. It astounds me that he is really either ignorant or blind? Why did he make a post like this without doing even a smidgen of research? The data about this is everywhere. Hell I’ve published about aspects of this here: http://darkecologies.com/2015/08/19/cryptosociety-the-dark-economy-and-technologies-of-freedom/

      What truly bothers me is that this is the current malaise of the Intellectual Left. Pretending to a politics based on mere whim rather than knowledge. Ignorant of the facts it constructs its own mythologies out of thin air, Prometheans of a negative sum vision, they seem to be finally entering the dark corners of their own minds like Marxists stuck in a bad dream. Rotation therapy for the masses. Is this the Left today?

      Liked by 1 person

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