Franco Berardi: The Xeroxed Hero

In And: Phenomenology of the End Berardi diagnosis of Progressive Modernity moves toward abstraction and away from the sensuous, a male trajectory toward immortalization and the eclipse of the human. He’ll see within the aesthetic dimensions of modernist artistic expression the slow dematerialization of the sensuous and the bodily life for the pure fascist gleams of a life outside time. The interminable image-cultures of the Age of Cinema when Hollywood glamour and the forms of purity and beauty parade across the silver screen, along with the slow dawning of the later part of the twentieth-century with its horror films, when spatter matinees and disaster films bring the disgust of the material connections to substantive existence to the fore and humans enter the inhuman rapture of cyborg existence. The escape velocity of false accelerationist culture and the drift of abstract movement into the virtual worlds of a new imaginary bring with it both the death sequences of suicide punkers and the immersive culture of speed and mediatainment replicants. In our age of Selfies and neo-narcissism its hard to imagine the glitter splatter of post-punk sociality and its scratch sounds downward turn to metalloid fracture ending in the return of those solitary fascist wolfens of the North and Black Metal. Today we are overwhelmed by the Human Security Regimes that seek to transport us to Safe Zones where the inhuman is nothing but the name of a neohuman bargain, not with the Devil of old mythologies, but rather with the solipsistic panic worlds of migrant rage. Below is a quote from Berardi’s short spectrum analysis of the 80’s and 90’s:  

Confronted with the ultimate threat, the nuclear destruction and the sexually transmitted immunodeficiency syndrome, the cyberpunk culture prepared the jump in the hyper-world of abstraction. In the cyberpunk imagination the body is perceived as the heavy painful residual of the organic past. Cyberculture replaces the body with the sanitized clean smooth surface of the screen.

A sort of masculine hysteria is hidden in the digital culture of the ‘80s and of the ‘90s. The late nineteenth century Decadence was originated by the spread of sexual infectious diseases like syphilis, the techno-glamour aesthetics of the late twentieth century flourishes in the aftermath of the sexuo-viral epidemics of AIDS.

The prosthetic-aesthetics of the cyborg, imaginary organism enhanced by digital prosthesis can be seen as the arrival point of the romantic male hysteria that wants to escape the dangerous ambiguity of sensuousness. When the Romantic sublimity meets the frigid surface of the digital experience, panic and depression are the outcomes. Panic crisis is a symptom that spreads widely in the experience of the connective generation. No more the passionate panic resulting from the confusing inexhaustible possibilities of nature, but a frigid panic resulting from the contraction of time: frantic time, unattainable body, fragmented experience, ever widening space of possibilities that never get real.

This hero’s immortality no longer originates in the strength to survive all possible ordeals, but from its ability to be xeroxed, recycled, and reincarnated. Destruction will alter its form and appearance, yet its substance will be untouched. The immortality of the thing is its finitude, not its eternity. The hero is dead, long live the hero!1


  1. Franco “Bifo” Berardi. And: Phenomenology of the End (Semiotext(e) / Foreign Agents). Semiotext(e) (November 6, 2015)

 

 

2 thoughts on “Franco Berardi: The Xeroxed Hero

  1. I haven’t read And yet but reading your blog lately makes me think he is still partly in the train of his experience of writing that is similar to that of Heroes. In Heroes, most of which is unreadable cultural trash, a great eye opener was chapter eleven where he more or less destroys his perspective by calling it “a kind of pornography” that is ultimately “useless denunciation” to be replaced by an exit route, where “dystopian irony” proposes a new alternative to cognitive workers which he describes as being between “the ultimate automation of the collective brain and the conscious self-organization of the general intellect” (pg. 205). For him that which he refers to as the matrix and its networked swarm is a sort of process of enslavement that absorbs the autonomous surplus value of a social body (the unemployed, children, or rejects like the mentally ill and severely handicapped, etc.) and makes it participate in the meaningful purpose of a community that has a political or religious perspective express by its educated experts who are trying to tell us how to think and express our responsibility by forcing us to engage in their games or way of thinking. But surplus value works at another game whose play does not expand the meaning of a political or religious perspective but is intensive or makes sense without making a meaningful contribution to any community and its perspective because to make sense is to be with the outside, to dwell in the open with other migrants at play with transitional objects going elsewhere. This is a movement that moves in a place as yet to be known which is why it requires cartographers who can think without understanding and map out landmark refrains without leaving a cultural memory to be exploited by learned experts. If this sort of mapmaking occurs then the “autonomous potency of the general intellect” is preserved, which is to say, we grow in freedom. We need a new rhythm, a new refrain that like any lullaby or transitional object helps us through the anxiety of a transformative spasm, an unknowable motion that we experience but don’t understand because there is nothing to compare to that which we are going through. It is unimaginable and overwhelms our ability to think about something and calls for the discretion of anonymity and a withdrawing silence…

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