It’s always funny how people speak as if things never change, when they’ve always been changing. Do we still live in the Victorian Age? Are our ethics the same as theirs? When Marx was inverting Hegelian dialectics and speaking of alienation, the objectivation of the human being determined and enslaved to the machines he was building – What would he say now of our enslavement to gadgets: iPhones, tablets, home surveillance systems, Selfies, the endless reproduction of our images into that false infinity of mirroed narcissism? In some ways we’ve only refined the work ethic of our Puritan forbears… now we work 24/7 in an oncall Onlife world without stop… the network society as Utopian realm that Mcluhan and Flusser both dreamed of has become our all pervading and ubiquitous truth. Here’s Velim Flusser dreaming of the network society well before it arose:
“Many aspects of this fabulous new social and life structure are already visible in our environment and in us. We live in a utopia that is appearing, pushing its way up into our surroundings and into our pores. What is happening around us and in us is fantastic, and all previous utopias, whether they were positive or negative, pale in comparison to it. Utopia means groundlessness, the absence of a point of reference. We face the immediate future directly, unequivocally, except inasmuch as we cling to those structures generated by utopia itself.”
Into the Universe of Techical Images Velim Flusser
Back then there was a sense of giddeness, a techno-fetishistic exuberance that would give rise to both Cyberian utopianism and the Cyberpunk dystopian visions. Now we’ve passed through the mirror it all seems so bland, so comfortable, so just blasé and indifferent. We’re there, so what? A sort of futility mixed with ennui. Yet, under the hood in the dark net activists still roam with criminals, pirates, porn jerks, economic doomsters, etc. A sort of libertarian nightland of death on hyperwheels. But here in the hinterlands things go on as usual. We just wander our morning links, pick up the newsfeeds, the bleeds of mediatainment, the reality studio seen from either the corporate hives or the so to speak Left or Right extreme blogospheres. We measure our moments not in teaspoons (Wilde), but rather in blipscreen flick-backs from our mobile search agents organized digest – a sort of off-line report on the fantasy life of global capitalism.
So maybe in the end the great thing that was supposed to change us, this image machine that was to mythicise and temporalize us as agents of the cyclic return, a release from the prison of arrowed progress and duration, and the linear movement of geometric time, is after all just a short-circuit enslavement to another kingdom of desire captured by the superficial dream of our Selfie Status Images: each staring back at us out of the twilight apparatus of the Eye that sees everything which has replaced the empty place of God – a Void become god that surveys the inscapes of a mindless tribe of inhuman dust at the edge of idiocy. No, we’re no longer in the Prison House of Language as the Postmoderns once thought we were, now we’ve become the dividual rendition of a factory image multiplied to infinity; the false infinity of an image floating around a non-time vacuum of vacuous light, accelerating non-stop through a rhizomatic network going nowhere but along a last scramble of a lost labyrinthine circle seeking a violence inhuman to desire; where a selfie of a selfie stretches itself out ad infinitum reducing itself to the flow-image of a drifting narrative, delirious to the world becoming – an empty series of false images engulfed in the void of a frozen mind snapping the self-same selfie repeatedly toward its insane eye.
I can poke you, like you, add you, feed you, find you… create an event with you… smile, frown, get angry… all in the flick of a mouse click. I don’t even have to know you, see you, feel you, watch your eyes, your nose, your mouth… no more chewing gum pops, loud farts… amazing I can just blip you with an ‘On this day…’ and tune you out with a nice sound recording feed… I can friend you, unfriend you… it’s like a bloodless insurrection, I can even dis you all in a flash of the wrist… what a wonderful world we live in…
I can be your friend without being your friend… amazing…