The intellectual roots of our present situation run at least as far back as the 19th century when Marx, Darwin, and Wagner all, in very different ways, invented the discourse of scientistic perfectibility, subtly replacing Christian eschatology with new justifications for human suffering based loosely of evolution. In short, 'Covid science’ is a scientistic religion based on utopian principles, which asks us to sacrifice our own lives for a vague, but ideal future.
‘Covid science’—when adopted and valorized by government bureaucrats—produces a terrifyingly idealistic politics in which all individual preferences and values must be liquidated and poured into the mold of a single, collective Good.
Let’s distinguish between types of complexity: aesthetic complexity (a Gothic cathedral) and bureaucratic complexity (the IRS). Then, let’s apply Gresham’s law: bureaucratic complexity drives out aesthetic complexity—the inane drives out the beautiful.
We behave in terms of the imagery of our environment. When our environment becomes increasing digitized—when we wall ourselves off from the physical, biological world— we start to behave, think, express, communicate exclusively in the tropes suggested by the unreal space we live in.
Covid has given everyone who wanted to be a victim a way to be a victim. The Virus is a vanity-mirror for the self-pitying.
It’s generous to call Internet intellectual discourse ‘cultural criticism’; let’s call it ‘culture-less criticism’ instead.
We all want to believe that our beliefs have foundations, but at the bottom of every belief is the will-to-believe.
What Wagner’s operas were to the 19th century ‘news’ is to the 21st century: an overwhelming flow of hypertrophied symbolism.
When words lose their meaning (when we stop meaning anything we say), a dangerous vacuum opens. The social immune system becomes dangerously weak. Political parasites move in, attack, attach.
Regressions into the Real are scary: the Real of germs, bad breath, bad sex, any sex… bodily decay, material scarcity. Outside the Covid Bubble is Death — and no one wants that. Inside the Bubble, all things follow the easy and familiar curve of the bell; outside the Bubble, power-laws produce terrifying spikes of pleasure and pain.
Covid has proven that it’s not enough to be smart: smart people are easily — too easily fooled — and herded together. You need an animal instinct for freedom. A cache of concepts without percepts (experiences ) is worthless currency.
Propaganda is a sign that something has gone badly wrong.
Cancel culture—which has hybridized with mask culture—is just a rehabilitation of the concept of Sin: a covert form of theological condemnation. Canceling is excommunicating.
Just as romanticism was a reaction to the mechanism and the determinism of the 19th century, we need a new romanticism to respond to the digital determinism of the 21st century, which is driven by ‘data’ and pseudo-scientific optics of all kinds.
Privacy is an obsolete invention.
Nietzsche’s observation that ‘we’ have killed God is only a fractal of the total picture: we continually kill the Sacred in all its guises; we are hunters and destroyers of the Sacred.
The folk concept of the ‘hive mind’ reflects a real consequence: algorithmic, aggregated ‘thinking’ has displaced individual thinking. We do not so much think for ourselves as we contribute fragments of thought to the Internet.
Jacobinism, in all its historical guises, is essentially this: the obsession with creating control mechanisms for surplus social energy. A Jacobin is revolutionary who despises revolutionary freedom—a covert statist who can only imagine the state as an apparatus for human sacrifice in the name of an Ideal.