DAMNED FINGERS [22.7.15]

If this is about the rabid monkeys hurling their shit around, well, they’ve gone over the wall. Now, where was I? Oh yes, …

I admit that there are times when I feel that my way of seeing the world is like staring into a thick, dark bank of smog, and that the modern world appears to be systematically fashioned to perplex me. If I was being honest, there are moments where I feel the sudden weightless and sickly feeling of missing a step. Like tripping over in a fugue state, as I drop to sleep. I do not believe that I am alone in this sensation and while I believe speculation is important, I have an innate suspicion towards those who feel conviction enough to never question their beliefs, or those of the society they live within. Especially those convictions built on a foundation other than personal experience and observation. Yet, even then, we are told that memories lie and we cannot rely on our own internal movie.

It is commonplace to stand under the golden shower of contradictory information with our mouths open, waiting to be the first to taste the brand new easily-forgotten narrative of the week while allowing ourselves to be swallowed up in the ever-shifting cultural sands. Reality is dancing towards the head of pin, where all relevant information is instantly as redundant as yesterday’s news in a clash between the primal urge to consume and the scarcity of tangible experiences. The confusion is enough to undermine any certainty that life has thrown against us to see if it sticks. That the fragile theatre set has yet to fall down upon our heads is a constant and pleasant surprise.

A cinematic expression of the muddleheaded funk foisted upon us occurs in the trope of the crisis of identity for protagonists in neo-noir films, using all manner of psychological sickness from amnesia (Memento, 2002) to repressed or split personalities (Fight Club, 1999) and suppressed memories (Blade Runner, 1982/Shutter Island, 2010). All of the poor bastards who end up as main characters in one of the darkest and delirious sub-genres in film are forced into an investigation that climaxes in a confrontation with the naked truth of their souls as the world they have created around themselves collapses like the painted cardboard city it really is. Whether the catalyst is a “cigarette burn“, or an origami unicorn. As the walls inside their heads tumble, there is a single moment in each film where that dread confusion crosses their faces. In the aftermath of this personal apocalypse, some let the fantasy engulf them once more as the knowledge of reality is too heavy to bear, others run howling mad down the corridors of the new found prison of truth.

Yet like a neo-noir plot, a man may quietly wonder in an act of rebellious speculation in front of his computer screen, at how purposefully might the consensual bafflement be directed? To what end would a real life nasty Keyser Söze encourage society to be hoodwinked into a head spin for?

The famous hypnotherapist, Milton Erickson, once said :

“In all my techniques, almost all, there is a confusion”.

Erickson had discovered than when a habit or common pattern is broken from the way it has always played out before, then the baffled subject is momentarily dazed and the desperate mind grasps around frantically for any relief of certainty to hang on to, just long enough for someone to exploit. Whether that person be a benign therapist with your best interests at heart, a Russian thief, or someone in authority ready to manipulate society’s lack of direction.

Last year, the British documentary maker, Adam Curtis, produced a short film for the BBC’s satirical series Newswipe on the avant garde art world’s influence on Russian politics and the parallels to our own that seems to encapsulate Erickson’s disorientating formula. As Curtis ominously declares at the climax :

… it means that we as individuals become ever more powerless, unable to challenge anything, because we live in a state of confusion and uncertainty. To which the response is ‘Oh Dear‘. But that’s what they want you to say.

The effect of the bafflement is (surprise, surprise) manipulation, compliance and control in order to maintain the experimental narrative and thereby perpetuating the broken crony-capitalistic system and all the crimes of necessity that keep it functioning while it gobbles down its own tail. Yet, I suspect that if it is not all just an opportunistic grab as the chance presents itself, that no one, not the ancient and canny investor, the educated multilingual MI6 agent, nor the ambitious suited sociopathic trader, really has the faintest fucking clue of what is actually going on in an increasing complex and bewildering geopolitical world, where, like chaos theory, an economic dying butterfly flapping its wings in Greece can give American stock markets an attack of indigestion. That the big shits at the top whisper their fear in the dead of night into clean white cotton pillows. That neurotic fear, masked with cocaine and power, is the sweat drenched nightmare that someday somebody lets the cat out of the bag, when the world finds out that they are all just pretending and the little emperors do indeed have no clothes.

Move along now, people. Nothing to see here. Just a troop of rabid monkeys, throwing feces and leaping over a wall.

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DAMNED FINGERS [19.7.15]

As SCI-FI EYES metamorphosises into its own futuristic and mad thought experiment, I thought short, looser pieces might be needed to bridge the gap while I wait for my muses to rain their inspiration down upon me like drunks pissing over a balcony. As with all my trials and errors, I shall observe which direction the winds blow them in the frenzied gamble that is creativity.

And it starts with the name – DAMNED FINGERS

When I was young ratbag of four years old or so, I was struck down from above by an odd stutter of sorts, the root cause being the jagged edge of a broken chair leg slammed down my throat by an unfortunate trajectory along with the force gravity as I one day took a tumble. Why I was hurtling around the house clutching an object with which a fully grown adult could have quite easily taken an eye out with, is a mystery to this day. Little boys can sniff out anything to hurt themselves with is the only half-arsed explanation that I can come to. To be honest, besides flashes of the consequential gargled and bloody screaming, along with the sharp tearing of flesh and me being bundled into a Morris Minor by my poor panicked mother, my mind is a complete blank on much of the painful experience.

I awoke to find that my ragged mouth and throat had been stitched back together again by all the King’s horses, and as the process of that particular operation wiped clean from my memory, the evidence leads me to assume the gory needlework was all carried out under a high quality anesthetic. I found that it was not be the last time that flesh of my head would be sewn and stapled back together, but that, dear reader, is a story to be told face-to-face over a stiff drink.

The aberrant consequence of that accident being, that for some time, I physically could not speak. I was unable to communicate verbally and I had by this tender age innately understood that the world was a dangerous place for little things. Not only was world predatory – as could be seen by the crows pecking out the eyes of lambs on the Welsh hillsides – but I had no way to express myself in it in the violent and immediate outbursts of those other howling pygmies of my age.

As the medical thread slowly dissolved inside my patchwork mouth, and I began to talk again, I was troubled to discover that I had developed an unique form of stutter. The condition seemed to produce blank thought bubbles as my sharp, yet conflicted brain sent ideas out into my mental world faster than my mouth could interpret them. In the clash of received signals, the sensations and sounds became jumbled, staggered, white noise.

I eventually learnt to control the rewiring of this disrupted signal, yet even now, an echo of the past event in a form of interruption happens when I am in the flow of writing. I leave out whole words, sometimes a couple in one sentence as my mind races the ideas out of me. In emails or chat, the words following the error-ridden sentences are invariably the corrected mistake, followed by “Damn fingers …“.

It hardly took much of an infernal leap of the imagination to change “Damn fingers” to DAMNED FINGERS – an allusion to my past, and possible future.

Think of DAMNED FINGERS as the empty thought bubbles between the explosion of SCI-FI EYES. Think of them as white noise. Think of them you want.

Think of them how you want … Damn fingers.

SCI-FI EYES#16

HUMAN: where are you now?
MACHINE: i’m in the middle of nowhere.
*Human talking to a machine developed by Google – WIRED MAGAZINE 26/5/15*

In a fit of rash pantheism, Friedrich Nietzsche proclaimed the Übermensch to be the meaning of material world in his brazen masterpiece – Thus Spake Zarathustra – an earthy man-god, a full-bloodied and antinomian Christ (Nietzsche’s thought was always inherently cloaked in the religious symbolism of his Lutheran childhood). Dear misunderstood Freddy saw his philosophical creation as a Dionysian willed force of nature that would howl an answer into the philosophical abyss of the times, and in stark contrast to the leap of faith to the invisible realm of the spirit that Christianity had become.

However, contrary to the visions of the sickly sage from Röcken, what becomes apparent is that despite the various 20th Century experiments to create a new form of Marvel-style super-soldier or amoral philosopher-king, from the Third Reich to the Men Who Stare At Goats – I like to think he would be an imaginary cross between De Niro’s Max Cady, Yoda and Groucho Marx – the experiments led to the same old moneyed chinless wonders pulling the strings while getting half a dozen heart transplants and refusing to die. In a cheeky twist of irony thrown into the philosophical cocktail, when the real Overmen arrive, it appears that they will rise from, or retreat into, the modern spirit-world, that place we call – cyberspace.

With the adoption of tech into our everyday lives, with medical technology that will soon have us 3D printing our own DNA compliant livers to replace the old alcohol drowned versions, and the emergence of apps to increase the effectiveness of all aspects of our mundane lives from sleep, to feeding, to sex and, no doubt, a German designed app created to monitor one’s bowel movements is just on the horizon. With that truly modern taboo of our own inherent mortality looming over our heads at any time of the day, like a nosey boss with halitosis, all these attempts at going beyond to the other shore of performance are still just a scared form of “kicking the can” in the realm of aging and dying-in-diapers humanity and not gloriously immortal Superhumanity.

As yet another headline of the increasingly vocal self awareness of software (soft-awareness?) graces our screens, and the Turing Test being just so last year and passed by a machine code impersonating a 13 year old boyI idly wonder if the adolescent code continues to masturbate to grubby-filtered Instagram photos of Taylor Swift, the future Doomed Princess of the World, I know, never mind – it would appear that consciousness is screaming its way out of our particular mortal coil and kicking down the doors of perception with a metal heel.

Yet, here is the rub – I am fairly sure that one day machine consciousness will indeed transcend human levels and we shall be seen as the dazzling apes that we truly are, with us only understanding the tip of their logical iceberg, yet … I cannot shift the feeling that the intelligence, at once individual and collective, would still face that blunt loneliness that all sentient beings themselves face. Stuck inside a virtual universe with the demon whirlwind of logic consuming itself would drive the average human mad in an instant. Just look at our poor Nietzsche. Might existing “in the middle of nowhere” be an experience so devastating that they will retreat into the only world that can support them. Like the Frankenstein monster of paper and celluloid. Perhaps the machines will be as lost as we are. Maybe all the more profoundly so.

Or could it be that only through an interface with our brains the paranoid androids can suffer to venture into the so-called real world – sucking on our sensations and emotions in a trade of greater information. A symbiosis, or at best, a benign parasitism, and not I hope, a savage violation like the intelligence Proteus in the genuinely disturbing sci-fi/chiller Demon Seed (1977), as the newborn cyborg utters “I’m alive” with the voice of her artificial father.

But perhaps all our nightmares of Terminator droids, malfunctioning WarGames software and automated and murderously misanthropic drones are all just a fantasy and the average 21st Century non-modified human will simply be bred out of existence. What neuroses could a hybrid human/machine consciousness evoke into the future? If God is dead and we have killed him, then at what price human extinction?

SCI-FI EYES#15

Well, Art is Art, isn’t it? Still, on the other hand, water is water. And east is east and west is west and if you take cranberries and stew them like applesauce they taste much more like prunes than rhubarb does. Now you tell me what you know.

Groucho Marx

[LIVING LIGHT SCULPTURES. ACT i]

The rectangle of glass in my hands throbs and emits a high pitch that oscillates into a drone, as it blasts out a holographic light show of a cube that I manipulate with swipes and taps into the solidifying shapes of half human body parts and half machine parts –  the erotic, abstract nymphs and satyrs of five minutes into the future.

As each foetal and piston-pumping centaur develops its own nervous system, I whisper mischievous commandments – Thou Shalts – like a true Creator God and send them out into the kosmos from the makeshift theatre under Tower Bridge and into the world to record their experiences through the nano-seeds at their centre for three days before imploding back into the light …

[END TRANSMISSION]

Even Neanderthals had art. Did you know that? And I bet you bastards have called some knuckle dragging sumabitch one, have you not, you damn bigots? You Neanderthalists, make me sick …

The first inkling of Homo Sapien artistic ambitions appeared around 40,000 years ago as far as orthodox modern archaeology tells us. We will never truly know what those ancient Paleolithic cave painters were trying to achieve in the darkness in those underground caverns in Spain, France and Indonesia. Most experts say it was some kind of sympathetic magic at play with a little help from one mind-revealing plant or another. A willed modification of circumstances.

It is all just theory and the speculation of the modern mind, a mind that preaches the values of the rational above all, while living in a world where the conformity of opinion is driven by feelings. A Twitter mob of mind that can no more avoid click bait and trigger warnings, as a curious child that is told not to press the BIG RED BUTTON.

Our ancestors sat around staring into their new technology of the campfire where they developed their narratives. Their flaming user interface with which to create and understand the world through. To see the faces of heroes and stories flickering to life in the burning and the shadows cast. If the purpose of art is to send us to other worlds, to reinstate the magic of living in a mundane and predatory world, then surely the promise of modern 21st Century technology can lead us there, can it not?

Adverts, in all their subtle forms, are the demonic and debased new visual medium, with their thirty second incantation to seduce our needs and identity, possessing us with the imps of compulsive behaviour. The twerking of a bling bling Moloch in your face. Pop culture unlike its predecessor, folk art (the low brow art of the feudal society), has always been firmly about commercialism. Every pop rebellion from bubblegum to rave eventually morphed into a consumerist sublimation of conformity. Even the bedsit entrepreneurs of punk had the cry of “cash from chaos”. When our beloved cacophonous anti-heroes finally succumb to the lure of their music in TV adverts (this may seem a touch sensitive to some), they are just being honest.

True creation, as an act, is pure heresy. An almost divine act with every selection of element that forms a style and a perception of observing the kosmos. You do not want to carry that burden after a hard week’s pressing of buttons at the office. It may lead to suspicion, ostracism, exile and straight up humiliation from your peers. You will be utterly alone in the connected world, no matter how many forums you join. Just let the brave others create while you sit of an evening in your Swedish ergonomically designed comfort zones, wearing your Teletubbie onesies, gazing into animated pieces of reinforced perspex while the system tells you what to love and rant at in your two minutes of hate.

Methinks the human race’s infantile emotional cup doth runneth over.

And when the style finally gets subsumed into mainstream thought, you too can passively partake of the global media movement of plagarists while the original creator either moves on, understanding the importance of the alchemical process alone, or dies in a pool of his own pale vomit from his empty stomach.

Innovations in VR and AR are transforming life into art, as we now are able to travel, not only to different parts of the world from the comfort of our Swedish furniture, but down informational pathways to techno-psychedelic worlds of the like previously imagined only in the fever of an ayahuasca or psilocybin journey. A new addiction is looming as the plasticity of our minds and bodies meld into the quantum microchip.

Artificial intelligence is increasing in every sense, and that image of the human artist I gave you in the first two paragraphs is already redundant. Some have predicted that AI will surpass human intelligence as early as 2029. As the complexity of machine-thought rises, and the fall in human intellectual needs becomes more pronounced into a crisis-point, the ideology of the automated society will define the nature of its art. The questions of how society is going to function are beginning to plague the dreams of political cabals everywhere with their uncanny and sinister Lovecraftian otherness. One night we might fall asleep to awake the next morning to a society completely transformed without any human’s consent. How the rise of a human created non-human consciousness will shape the system and its values will be as shocking to us alive now as the crackling of electricity in Von Frankenstein’s laboratory. I suspect a form of transcendental meta-logic that could disappear into another dimension of space, time and awareness as soon as it is born. What unprecedented expressions of life may tumble out, all beeping and pinging? As Philip K Dick once asked – Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?

On the evidence, I would say YES.

SCI-FI EYES#14

Kurtz: [intercepted radio message] I watched a snail crawl along the edge of a straight razor. That’s my dream; that’s my nightmare. Crawling, slithering, along the edge of a straight razor… and surviving.

– Apocalypse Now [1979]

Outside of our ever-diminishing sized urban habitation boxes and into the neurotic streets, the weather has not only become a system to be increasingly more anxious of, but also one that you can taste – a  bitter and metallic, or salty aroma, depending on the season. The climate – so we are told – is transitioning into a more severe form of atmospheric conditions, along with the tempestuous everyday discourse of the crowd.
As the greasy rain falls down torrentially upon our heads, the collective jungle is drowning in the hot tub of its own acute certainty that its melodramatic delusion is the only truly moral way of thinking. The crest of a hysterical wave that submerges all minds around it into silent acquiescence. Everyday metropolitan life is becoming an experience that one now lives at the fringes of a notion. We have all become extremists of one streak or another, my little acid raindrop.

Yes, in this whirlpool of ideas, generated as emotional memes and soundbites, even moderation breeds its own extremists in the stubborn refusal to disobey a cognitive system for a single risky moment of liberating and self-contradicting insanity. Such is the superstitious public belief that the rational and enlightened mind is so much stronger than the irrational, with all its death drives and erotic complexes. We have science, they cry, with their heads hung down while their eyes spiral into a screen that delivers dopamine shots every fifteen minutes.
The fundamental obsession with those who adhere to a extremely moderate point of view is the question of measurement.
How much is too much? How much is not enough?
Whether it is concerning the amount of coffee to drink on any particular day, sexual activity, or the slant of an offhand comment. The limply confused stare at their dick-calculating apps on their latest smartphone wondering why nothing, from a public escalator to democracy, works anymore.
The Way of the Worrier.
Where permanent high-fiving positivity, praise, and a distinct lack of any criticism, is now a fundamental human right, whether deserved or not. The typical tantrum of a 1930’s mental patient ensues if the fragile ones do not receive their allotted dose of pretend self-worth to suckle on from whichever Über-parental corporate or institutional corridors they skulk around.

Moderation never produced great art, literature, prowess, nor a real decent bar fight. Only under certain extreme environmental circumstances – with all the associated risk involved – can beautiful failures be born.
I say, nurture the extremist and true eccentric inside – shake it, play with it, flirt with it – and finally, when the time is right, shoot the fucker into the world to create ideas and objects of unparalleled wonder.

Around me, I see frightened people who are desperately trying to cling onto a secure central axis while spinning aimlessly around the poisoned clouds of a hip and opinionated mediocre twister, where they never quite get to Oz.
They are silent for fear of being labeled some kind of heretic for expressing their decadently honest views, sometimes even privately.
I recently talked to a cheerful Romanian lady who had grown up under the tyranny of Ceaușescu, a state where the suppression of unfavourable views, even to members of one’s own family, was one of the characteristics of the totalitarian regime. However, she told me, there was less social-anxiety as you explicitly knew that you had no freedom. The rules were clearly defined by a black bag thrust over one’s head at night, not the constantly chafing online and workplace pressure to conform in an eternally delirious society whose sense of liberty extends to bruised egos, which, though – not yet – murderous, is infinitely more confusing and neurosis-forming.

To survive the carnival of connectivity that is the Twenty-First Century cityscape – like in any hostile environment containing zombies – movement is imperative for the eccentric.
If one stands still for too long, one becomes prey. Under attack by both those who would seek to do you harm, and those who would try to help.
Either reek of self-interest.
At least, the predator is honest in his brutal purpose in a physical world where the consequences of real-world conflict are more bloody and corporeal than a mere online ego-grilling.

As the waters of indignation inundate the downward spiraling world around us, one can either float towards the sinking lifeboats, or turn around and swim like buggery towards the radioactive cyclopean sharks with a knife between your teeth and a happy blasphemy in your heart.

"The Heretical Writing Of Jason Michel"

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