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Late to the Party

The realization that my generation’s cultural output is nothing, but pastiche is existentially depressing.

We arrived at the party late, after everyone cool already left.

We had the scenes. I drank cheap beer at backyard punk shows with mohawked derelicts who collected vintage Star Wars action figures. I hit up all the goth clubs spinning Bauhaus and Siouxsie.   But it was never my party. It was performative. The studs, black lipstick, ripped shirts didn’t belong to us, we just wore them as a costume. Ghosts of the past haunting our future.

My generation never found itself.

The cultural critic and philosopher Mark Fisher wrote extensively about Hauntology and the idea he referred to as The Slow Cancelation of our Future.

The future is dead.

 The futures we expected never happened. We can no longer imagine a future in the same way previous generations imagined one so we revert to ever sterilized versions of futures imagined in the past.

We are twenty-one years into the 21st Century but culturally we are trapped in a nostalgic pastiche of the 20th. Our current seems incapable of articulating the present. Everything is referential to the ghosts of the past. Our social and political commentary is trapped in the mystified history of World War II seen understood through the lens of superhero movies and Tarantino infantilism. Endless performative stupidity.

We live in a state of dyschronia, a disoriented, out-of-time sensation of vertigo. Bug World is main street Disneyland, a non-place of interchangeable Starbucks disguised as nostalgia. Remember Star Wars guys, how quaint, slap a Spider-Man on it! Boy oh boy the past is now, then, and forever. You too can have a childhood just like your father did, but this America is extra good 4k resolution.

Invited to think of the futuristic, we will still come up with something like the music of Kraftwerk, even though this is now as antique as Glenn Miller’s big band jazz was when the German group began experimenting with synthesizers in the early 1970s.

Mark Fisher

Bug World is exhausting. Constant over-stimulation. Digital warfare on all the senses. Spiritual annihilation. Constant onslaught, constant insomnia, leaving you unable to self-reflect, unable to attain any measure of introspection.

Disconnected from the sacred, removed from the spiritual, all that remains is profane consumption, plastic nostalgia. Tear down the statues of our ancestors and raise in their stead plastic Funko figurines.

The truth is we failed. We were given the internet and instead of creating groundbreaking art or revolutionary culture we reverted into nostalgic infantilism. We turned our back on the future and retreated into a never-ending Comic-Con, cheering for children’s entertainment created before our parents were born. Endless remakes, endless re-imagining. We can’t imagine a future, so we just borrow previous versions. Bladerunner again, Dune again, Matrix again, endless Terminators, endless Alien’s.

The bugmen gape and cheer on the putrefying corpses portraying characters better forgotten, their decaying visage artificially de-aged by sinister techodemonic apparatuses.

Our culture is so decrepit that eighty-year-old Harrison Ford will be starring in the next Indiana Jones.

There’s an increasing sense that culture has lost the ability to grasp and articulate the present. Or it could be that, in one very important sense, there is no present to grasp and articulate any more.

Mark Fisher

We are haunted by the futures that never happened.

This party sucks. Let’s go somewhere else.

3 comments

    1. Alric,

      I noticed this stagnation when I was on the Net back in ’96. It felt like the technological advances were stalled thanks to MS’ monopoly and the failed ant-trust case over Windows. Office dominance sucks. Can anyone tell me how Clippy or the ribbion interface have improved our lives.

      Same on the cultural front. The content creators are culturally shallow, almost afraid of creating new stuff. I suppose because their original content is both unimaginative and strictly derivative.

      xavier

      Liked by 2 people

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