The Cybergrim Aesthetic – Precarity and the Neoliberal Endgame

Necroliberal culture has injected into the social brain a constant stimulus towards competition and the technical system of the digital network has rendered possible an intensification of informatic stimuli, transmitted from the social brain to individual brains. —Anon

The Cybergrim City is a place where power makes bodies vulnerable to death and exploitation by limiting time in certain spaces, forcing continual mobility, increasing time in toxic, violent and surveilled spaces, justifying these necro-temporal policies through precarity. The dense city or megalopolis of the near future will be a Necroscape, a site of surveillance capitalism, a factory of death where the furnaces of capital and sex play out their games of sacrifice and eros – the pleasure/pain of an occulture of pure jouissance.

The Necroscapes of the future will be sites of surpassing repetition producing liminal zones of necrotic existence. A libidinal economy of necrotic repetition, a sado-masochistic environ of predatory existence; competition on steroids. The marketization and militarization of these necrofeudal enclaves will harbor the architecture of death, much as the ancient cities of Moloch were built around the never-dying ovens of a sacrificial holocaust of babies, or the Mayan cities of blood where obsidian dreams of knowledge and power sacrificed warriors at the peak of their existence, cannibalizing their hearts in rituals of bloodletting to the gods of time.

The ultimate expression of sovereignty largely resides in the power and capacity to dictate who is able to live and who must die. To kill or to let live thus constitutes sovereignty’s limits, its principal attributes. To be sovereign is to exert one’s control over mortality and to define life as the deployment and manifestation of power. —Achille Mbembe, Necropolitics

As Berardi once suggested we “have to look at the cyberspace of global production as an immense expanse of depersonalized human time” (32 Precarious Rhapsody). In a necroeconomy the human body is excluded. Depersonalized time becomes the real agent of the process of valorization, and depersonalized time has no rights, nor any demands. It can only be either available or unavailable, but the alternative is purely theoretical because the physical body despite not being a legally indexed commodity is the last bastion of the connected. (33 PR) The laborers of the future are mere zombies, the living dead of the precarity, whose only access to the market or life is by way of the neuralink implants now attached to their brains at birth. Like denizens of some nefarious underworld they are called forth from their necrohibernation through the necrolinks of their brain-interface like drones reconnecting their abstract time to the necroticular flux.

Power is the agency that reduces the field of possibility to a prescriptive order; power, therefore, is the actual source of sad passions, and their existence can be seen as an effect of the subjugation of the soul to the force of power. —Francesco Berardi,  Futurability: The Age of Impotence and the Horizon of Possibility

This is a world or neocameral City-States, mini-states, or neostates where the rich and elite gather behind protective macropodic security systems to fend off the excluded, anarchic, and outcase outlaws and renegades of a new dark age of man. Nick Land remarks that the macropod has one law: “the outside must pass by way of the inside”. Where humans are no longer singular and free, but rather are machines in an assemblage of desiring machines, plugged into “segmented and anthropomorphized sectors of assembly circuits as the attribute of a personal being”. (Machinic Desire) In his reading of Anti-Oedipus he observes a philosophy of the machine, one which advances an “anorganic functionalism that dissolves all transcendence,” and “mobilizes a vocabulary of the machine, the mechanic, and machinism” (MD, p. 4). This is a black-box theory of use and pragmatic endeavor that asks the question(s) ‘What are your desiring-machines, what do you put into these machines, what is the output, how does it work, what are your nonhuman sexes?’ (Anti-Oedipus, p. 322).

Necrodigital slaves of the futural market, fractalized and fragmented, their bodies excluded, only their minds as info-workers co-habit the black circuitry of capital time where their avatar existence is consumed. The Info-slavery is affirmed as a mode of necromantic, precarious and depersonalized, work. The personal has given way to absolute transparency, a cyber-panopticon that is the necrofluidic vitality of this monstrous system of non-life. An economy of death and its production.

In fact this is a dark virtual materialism that names an “ultra-hard antiformalist AI program, engaging with biological intelligence as subprograms of an abstract post-carbon machinic matrix, whilst exceeding any deliberated research project” (MD, p. 5). This is Land’s attack on all those systems of Transcendental logic like the medieval construction kits of the New Prometheans, Brassier and Negarestani, who seek (after Sellars/Brandom) to build navigational systems in the “space of reasons” into command and control centers of the deontological giving and asking of reasons in a normative throwback of an age when ethics and the epistemological world still believed in itself: – a world updated only in its speculative status as hyperfictional philo-fiction. Land instead following in that other tradition of the dark vitalist curve from Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Bataille, Freud, Deleuze/Guattari, et. al. brings us the machinic desires at the heart of the Real, where a hidden impulsive, desiring machine flows through the compositional and decompositional realms of economics, politics, and scientific endeavor.

Land would have us enter the death realms of Synthanatos – the terminal productive outcome of human history as a machinic process, yet it is virtually efficient throughout the duration of this process, functioning within a circuit that machines duration itself. In this way virtuality lends its temporality to the unconscious, which escapes specification within extended time series, provoking Freud to describe it as timeless. (MD, p. 5) Much like J.G. Ballard’s Chronotopia, or City of Timeless duration and assemblages of interlocked labyrinthine systems actively pursuing the eternity of desire without end, Land offers an ironic take on Anti-Oedipus as less a philosophy book than “an engineering manual; a package of software implements for hacking into the machinic unconscious, opening invasion channels” (MD, p. 5).

This sense of movement or feed-back loops or self-reflecting short-circuiting ride between the virtual Real of the unconscious Subject, and the actual world of the conscious active negativity and self-relating nothingness (Zizek) of awareness is an immanent process of gift exchange and excess. Following Freud (Death-drives, repetition compulsion, narcissism, solipsism, etc.), and Lyotard (libidinal materialism) he will describe certain issues “…the convergence of cybernetic, economic, and libidinal discourses, virtual materialism has considerable problems with this passage” (MD, p. 6). After explicating in detail the inner problems in the several discourses he will reduce it to a minimal statement, saying, that these machinic processes of desiring machines “are either cyberpositive-nomadic, with a deterritorializing outcome, or cybernegative-sedentary, with a reterritorializing outcome” (MD. p. 6). Again, the sense of a circuit or feedback, but one that works to construct, while the other tears down and deconstructs, composition and decomposition.

Inorganic Thanatos wrecks order, organic Eros preserves it, and as the carbon-dominium is softened-up by machine plague, deterritorializing replicants of nomad-cyberrevolution close in upon the reterritorializing reproducers of the sedentary human security system, hacking into the macropod. (MD, pp. 6-7)

Ours is a traumatic world full of fissures and horror, and “Freud characterizes trauma as an ‘invasion’, ‘a breach in an otherwise efficacious barrier against stimuli’, infiltrating alien desires — xenopulsions – into the organism.” (MD, p. 8)”. We may be entering the moment of a phase transition in which the inhuman death drive is enabling a machinic explosion of intelligence based on quantum mechanics and other NBIC technologies (nanotech, biotech, Information and Communications Tech, etc.) that will lead to a necrotic explosion at the heart of the Real, a release of toxic spoors from the nether regions of a hyperaccelerated future no one could have imagined, and none shall survive. Thanatos is dead, long live Thanatopia!

I keep thinking of a cross between Jeffrey Thomas’s Punktown books and the deathworlds and necroscapes of video games like Doom Eternal; J.G. Ballard’s later novels where the psychopath becomes the new agent of change; or the necrotombs of Gary J. Shipley where the end game of our terminal malaise of a civilization terminates in a zone of pure repetition and death. Pushing Neoliberalism to its ultra end-game as the pure worship of death, and the production of Hell on Earth in a toxic game of precarity and sacrifice to the gods of competition. Ultimately pushing the Grimdark aesthetic to its hypernecrotic finale…

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