Election Correspondence – New York Team
November 17, 2020
Journalists, self-satisfied, tell you thus: “November 3rd. Night. The Orange man doesn’t accept the results of the election. He defiantly locks himself in the oval office and bars the doors. Outside, in nearby Lafayette square, radical militia men with Oakley sunglasses and hot dog-necks raise the barrels of their guns. There are screams of terror from a racially diverse cadre of achievers that hoped in dreamy ambition to see our hero, Joseph Robinette Biden Jr., shamble his decrepit calf tendons up to the podium and slither his broad fingernails over the holy bible.” Continuing this onanistic fantasy almost necessitates a musical score and the director yelling “Cut!”
Even a teenager experienced in basic fighting game strategy could recognize immediately the absurdity. Reactions to reactions. Votes can be stolen with ease if sufficient money is allotted and networks of information exchange are under control. The only challenge is how to gauge the severity of liberal indignance that can be televised and counter attention to the rigging. You’d expect “not like in the movies” to be a basic lesson of adulthood any good parent tells their kid. To conclude that liberals are not thinking like adults is, however, as childish as their own narratives.
In an anonymous post on 4chan a quote-unquote “CIA insider” claims that film and tv are in themselves a psyop. They capture the visual and auditory world so effectively that images on the screen are no different than experiences in your life. Modern entertainment media has broken the wall of suspension of disbelief. Not in the sense of breaking the suspension itself but in breaking any idea of suspension of disbelief. In other words, it’s real even if it isn’t. You are in the movie even if you’re not. Humans are best programmed not through institutional instruction but through entertainment properties that unfold in a digestible sequence that coheres in time and space. The final psychological operation is the totalization of human existence as a film that never ends. Television is not an apt metaphor here because, as you might have expected if you’re paying attention, the twists and surprises and postmodern deconstructions that critics praise the golden age of prestige TV for precisely complement the reorientation of the human life under total cybernetic inculcation to conform to the narrative arc. You are the boy who lived, the caped crusader, the sleeping beauty, the prince charming. You embark on the hero’s journey. Despite the unreality of it all, the sense of a complete lack of control, the gnawing anxiety that something encroaching and dreadful lurks around the corner. Your life, in a spectacularized and mediated quote-unquote “new sincerity” is the janus face of Tiqqun’s jeune-fille. Here, in the age of history’s quote-unquote “return” after its quote-unquote “death”, humans are free once again to be mortals, to learn and to grow, to achieve, to age, to love, to die. Immortality is reserved for power and power alone.
On my way to buy JUUL pods at the only store that sells the illegal packages from Turkey, I look into the window of the nearby shop that sells ginseng root and dried cordyceps alongside cheap fibrous slatting. A Fifty-year-old woman slides her rosy fingertips up the touch screen of her mobile phone. She wears a puffa jacket cut into a vest over a red turtleneck. On the jacket it says “Under Armour.” Do you look at stratus clouds and imagine airplanes or geese? If a meteor fell from the Van Allen belt would you notice? A tangled mass of hair looked like it’s hanging on your wall out of the corner of your eye. Do you approach it?
Perhaps this is true. Maybe it’s not. To say that it’s true even if it isn’t betrays our own argument. But thought experiments are useful. How many Newsweek journalists cover popular culture when they’re not following politics? What happens when your time online is spent tabbing between news bulletins and Marvel movies? When you see a politician speaking on TV is it the same as hearing the cracks in his throat or the smell of his skin? Streams of information. It all just comes together so fluidly. I wonder if I’m going down the wrong path. Should I have taken a left turn? Are there any turns left to make? If you’re wondering what made everybody so “crazy” in 2016, consider how pissed off you get when your internet connection fails. Not the lack of internet but the interruption of that constant stream that coheres so nicely. One after the other. Information piling on information, but never diverting. Poor kid. The doctor’s note reported a fatal accumulation of water in the skull. You wonder if you really are smarter than the baby boomers watching the TV. You wonder if it’s even possible to get an accurate picture of reality anymore. You wonder if that story about a guy bringing a gun to a polling station really happened. You wonder, you wonder. Speculative realists argue that philosophy ought to transcend anthropocentric idealism in Kantian studies of thought and relation to being. Maybe the tumorescent rhizome of entertainment-media beat them to it. Consider that you will never be able to keep speed with reality. Consider that “reality” is not exactly a useful term anymore. Consider that we now live in a plasmatic matrix of interlinked and parallel coherent film strip-presentations of the world around us and that you, insignificant you, are only a node of one or more. Whether you control the mouse and the keyboard and the scroll bar is not really the concern. Mind control is best undertaken with the participation of the subject. The police, in fact, prefer that you talk to them. The first game of slots is always free.
Encouragingly, the way to reality sometimes comes through negatives and their own negation. That there are panthers in the forest does not rule out the presence of coyotes. The trap of conspiracy theorizing is not that it is dubious or unlikely but that it attributes linear coherence the same way as the oh-so reputable news feed. The line from tragedy to commentary is not too distinct from the line from a bomb in Beirut to whatever coalesces into the shadowy cabal as of *checks watch* yesterday. But we’re not braindead radicals here. Many news corporations do well in not attributing cause and effect to incidental history, even in punditry. What they cannot control, and this is unconsciously or consciously to their benefit, is how correspondence reaches the viewer in time. Pictures and notations displayed one after another necessarily interlink. Monsters disguise themselves as newscasters, a phone call is coming from Washington, and Khamenei collected the infinity stones. If your animal brain looks down empty hallways with suspicion after the horror film stops playing, then the question is not whether or not but how much more this same effect occurs in the domain of passive witness or quote-unquote “being part of history?”
You walk as close to the highway as you can. You’re never careful with knives. The point is not to avoid the risk of death but to avoid eternal infancy. There are many avenues to turning to a soft pink mound in the warm blanket of unreality. There are not enough brushes with the externality of dying in broad daylight as traffic screams on the freeway up above. There are not enough breaks in the networked flow of clean liquid through pipes lubricated by corpses from Senegal to Chechnya. To be worried about what’s in your toothpaste is inadvisable; to be worried about what the commander-in-chief says to your face is insanity. To believe him is more rational than to contradict him, because the contradiction is always intended as the true absurdity. Hillary Clinton is not going to prison, we guarantee it. We have institutions in place that will protect her. What institutions are those? It’s none of your business.
Unstoppable, unbeatable linear correlations of signs in the interstitial city blocks of a concentrated internet subdomain. To “chase the dragon” in the age of information is to chase after total awareness. Where television offered a coherent but limited story of history to the spectator, the internet drowns the interactive participant in fragments that cohere into snowballs of partial derangement. The lack of coherence necessitates conspiracy for all parties, even those with nice houses and sheened out kitchen counters look for the devil in the corner of the monitor.
We do not claim that voting is useless. We see our unreal election that is not really happening and continues not to happen instead as a warm opportunity to further extrapolate the mental disease of the liberal. That voting for president would hold this much weight, that no investigation is made into the endless procession of corruption in local elections, together unmasks the liberal desire for empire and for salvation by ritual performance. That an election and its outcome is only slightly relevant to real activism and mutual aid, that on the contrary social media posts and purchasing the right kind of coffee will not come to save you from your guilt, this will come as a rude awakening to the left. This is not an unusual fantasy of the imperial gentry. It goes back to even Cinderella and the Beauty and the Beast. Sheer absurd disbelief in the fantasy of how much weight is behind the casting of a ballot in a presidential election lurks behind every head including the valorant liberals themselves. For those experiencing a genuine shift in socioeconomic reality after January 20th, the color of ties is simply a pivot point around which to orient the trajectory of action moving forward. For those who feel the clawed hands of the zombie uprising in their outdoor cafes the vote becomes a ritual bath to steep one’s impure noble body in.
So, if you remain confused, to even perceive this general election as an event is to nod your head in assent to the ur-royal family imbuing the mind with a nameless anticipation of outcome until it buckles in submission to the tyranny of normality. Be wary, should someone offer their banality as a selling point. Will this really take me back to normal? What was normal anyway? Do you remember? Have you forgotten? It is not a non-event but a false event, and this does not imply that the game is rigged outright. It could be a perfectly regulated fair game and every vote is counted and still be false. Does it feel real? Even now? True events cannot be written about in theory, nor can they be narrated by the spectacle of narrative. You are correct, exhausted zoomer, to approach this physical world not in lockstep with the episodic narrative of televised drama but the drunkard’s walk of Brownian motion. Little is predictable but all can be understood. The only chaos is contradiction of the movies.