a theory of Moderns
It’s all bound up in what you fail to see about yourself: all the things that other people tacitly observe, but don’t say. There are many people whose whole lives are desperate attempts to repress the knowledge of what other people know about them—to deny knowledge of the self and exclude it from the inner-picture of the self, the ego. Failed relationships become tragic love affairs; artistic failures are doomed by external accidents; social isolation is all a terrible misunderstanding (a result of the unfairness of others).
The technological framework of our lives empowers and supercharges this kind of neurosis, providing tools for the creation of an alternate self which counter-acts the broken self. A digital self is essentially a repression of the physical self: an act of denial.
Social energy must constantly be diverted to re-inscribe the fictions of the online self onto the offline self: the emperor must be dressed in digital clothes. A confrontation between truth and lies looms—and must always be put off, delayed, tricked.
The screen is a womb-like immanence which promises constant rebirth. The body becomes a mere commodity for the rapacious ego and its prosthesis: the phone; the body is a factory for the production of new, more glamorous selves. The ego seems to forget it is, in fact, embodied: it associates more with its social network than its own physical vessel. The trope of ‘exhaustion’ reflects the energy that the body spends generating fictions for the mind.
And yet, somehow, the profound loneliness of humans—which seems to be unique in the scope of nature—persists despite the extraordinary techniques we have developed for the denial of loneliness and isolation. Perversely, and ironically, however, the persistent loneliness, specifically because it is repressed, provides no consolation: it cannot be meditated upon, cannot nourish. It is a solitude without gods or a horizon.
Discarded and disowned identities orbit us like aging, obsolete satellites.