The Reality Studio as Staged Event

The subject is in crisis, its hegemony threatened by centralized structures of control, by a technology which simultaneously alienates and masks alienation, by a perception of its own helplessness. Even the last retreat, the physical body, has lost its privileged status: hence the schizophrenic terror undergone by the protagonists. Even the libido, site of the irrational, seat of desire, is invaded, enlisted in the furtherance of an obsolescent technological rationalism.

—Scott Bukatman,  Terminal Identity: The Virtual Subject in Postmodern Science Fiction 

Over the past few weeks of watching the Left/Right street urchins play out their idiot games of violence I’ve realized just how ill effective either side is against real power. Why? Because in truth neither of these extremes has any power whatsoever: it’s all surface show violence, even these staged events are funded in part by Corporate NGO’s etc. so that the supposed radical or reactionary forces are virtual actualities without substance. Sadly this is the state of our planet at the moment, we use social media, academia, philosophy, heuristics not as actual tools to change the world, but rather to stage that change in a virtual realm that can be seen and played out like a MTV video remix. If it wasn’t so sad it’d be humorous, but in truth our powerlessness before the global juggernaut of financial capitalism has left us disunited, alone, atomized in societies that can only stage pseudo-events and struggles rather than anything that could move us toward an emancipated future.

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Berardi on the Bunker City

Berardi on the Bunker City

Such vertical environmental contrasts are compounded by the ways in which private, vertically segregated pedestrian systems can become progressively delinked from surrounding sidewalks. Actual access from the public street often becomes increasingly tenuous as the self-perpetuating logic of extending interiorised commercial walkway systems grow horizontally over time. Entrances to the walkway system from the street below are mediated by access to securitised corporate office buildings, elite condominiums or upmarket hotels. Commercial imperatives and a politics of fear, in other words, can result in pulling up the ‘ladder’ connecting the skywalk city to the street system. Linkages to the street, often already unsigned or inconspicuous, are closed, built over or replaced by connections through retailers or auto garages. Security guards and CCTV cameras provide intensified controls filtering flows between outside and inside.

—Stephen Graham,  Vertical: The City from Satellites to Bunkers

Taking over a notion of the Bunker City from Paul Virilio who’d developed it just after WWII, Berardi sees the new MegaCity States of the future divided into those of the have’s and have-not’s: within/without, included/excluded, bunker/favela, all living in the protected virtual/intelligent and artificial environments of competing and securitized Global MegaCities:

The composition of contemporary global society is structured around a fundamental separation between the inside-the-bunker social sphere and the outside-the-bunker social sphere. The bunker is the area in which the financial class and the cognitive workers live and work. This area can be outlined in terms of technical environment or in terms of urban location, and it is here where the main connective and recombinant functions are situated: the function of the financial decisions that dominate and exploit the whole cycle of production, and the function of cognitive labour, mostly precarious but protected to some extent, because it is strictly necessary to the accumulation of capital.

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