simulation, simulacra and the critical function

the hypermedia is the ultimate ideological state apparatus; all microcosms of power operate on all levels of sensibility, limited only by the code of the technology which produces it.

in hyperreality: criticism immediately becomes a parody of both itself and the object criticized. this could be termed “the negative dialectics of news.”

it is unclear whether “hypercriticism” would be a solution to the parodic effect the hypermedia has on hyperreality; if anything, it seems it would only add a hypocritical irony to the already-tired joke of criticism.

the effects of immersion in the simulation is “Passion-for-the-Real” syndrome; but this is a typically harmless set of symptoms, the only real passion being Passion for the Code.

critical negativity has been positivized by corporate institutions and the state: henceforth, negativity will be posited as the condition for “growth” and “prosperity.” the negative will not remain negative, and will never again be negative enough to counter “positivity.”

the hypermedia takes advantage of the fundamental uncertainty of knowledge (wittgenstein). this, however, misses the point that we can know certain things, and that the things we know are countable (turing); we cannot know everything, nor can we really know how we know (gödel). the very function of criticism has been thrown into deep uncertainty: it no longer concentrates on what it knows for certain, but is mesmerized by the absent center of an origin for knowledge. obsession with origins is parallel to the Passion for the Real: the origin is the objet a of knowledge, it could be anything that sets off the chain reaction of reason. the hypermedia has made sure there there shall be no lack of those.

cynical critique is regressive and seeks not to change the objects of its criticism; the cynical critic is immune to the powers of argument, logic, and reason because, to the cynic, “all is symbolic fiction except the Real of her own position.”

irony is also a defense against valid critique: it reduces all positions, even the one the ironist occupies, to symbolic fiction. this person may be swayed by an argument, but this is more because of rhetorical form than any relation to truth or goodness.

we have entered what can only be called “a hyperreal phase of socratic dialectics:” if you allow them this much sophistry, they will destroy all sophism; when all sophism is destroyed, all arguments become weightless, equally valid, more true than the Truth.

criticism, in order to escape the vicious circuity of simulation and simulacra, must, like bataille’s conception of literature, PLEAD GUILTY.

pleading guilty in earnest is, to put it in religious terms, seriously confessing that criticism has committed the crime of betrayal. it has colluded with corruption in order to safeguard itself in the academy in the role of “public intellectual.”

pleading guilty is the first step toward regaining the “purity of heart” that a true critic needs in order to “will one thing.” the barriers and obstacles to willing one thing will require the critic to wipe away the stains of past betrayal because the barriers and obstacles today are hypermediated, hyperreal, and possess a nearly unlimited potency in the art of distraction.

willing one thing now requires not just a pure heart but also the austerity of disciplined concentration, concentrated discipline.


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