FILED UNDER :Review
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(Also via Singapore Airlines.)
Edge of Tomorrow is science fiction Groundhog Day, agreed. (It would make no sense to contest this, some scenes achieve near-perfect isomorphy.) Derivative, then, certainly — but this is a point of consistency. Duplication is, after all, the latent theme. Edge of Tomorrow works better because it has formalized the time-repeat plot-system in videogame terms. Death replaces sleep, as action drama replaces comedy, but the recurrence of time is captured more incisively by the Edge of Tomorrow maxim: “We should just re-set.” Further to be noted: Edge of Tomorrow actually has a story about the basis of its time anomaly — and not an especially risible one — while Groundhog Day doesn’t even pretend to.
We should just reset is not only videogame practice, but also the recommendation of quantum suicide, another practical Electrocene philosophy. The best fictional exploration of QS (of which I am aware) is Greg Egan’s Quarantine.
Videogame ideology and quantum suicide are praxial indiscernibles. In other words, their behavioral implications are equivalent. In both cases, the relation to self is made selective, within a set of virtual clones. Whenever developments — within one of multiple assumed timelines — goes ‘bad’ it should be deleted (culled). In that way, only the most highly-adaptive complex behavioral responses are preserved, shaping fate in the direction of success (as defined by the selective agency).
Recent discussions about Christianity and Paganism raise the question: what does it take for a system of belief to attain religious intensity among Westerners today? (Yes, this could be re-phrased in very different ways.) To cut right to the chase: Could statistical ontology become a religion (or the philosophy of a religion)? Quantum suicide terrorism anybody? This is a possibility I find hard to eliminate.
Edge of Tomorrow, therefore? A more significant movie than might be initially realized. (It’s monsters are also quite tasty.)
ADDED: Thoughts on Post-Rationalist religion.
Fragments from the West Coast, plus some bits and pieces.
Currently in a gothic inspiration — the Otira Hotel — just beyond Arthur’s Pass. Bought for one million dollars, along with the whole village of forty houses. It’s on the rail-line, but remained on the market for years because:
1) It’s a Gold Rush ghost town with no economic base
2) It’s deep in a valley that plunges it into permanent shadow for half the year
3) There’s a massive quake due (on the fault-line it straddles) which is expected to destroy everything
The new owners have stuffed the hotel bar with Gold Rush antiques, taxidermy specimens, the first telegraph cable, freaky life-size marionettes … it should be getting dark for the full effect (but it isn’t yet) …
On an Internet ration tonight (Dec. 27.), but I’m going to try to keep this alive — meaning updates undramatized by an ‘ADDED’. Also pics (but some slight time lag likely there).
There has to be a shot of horror in there, but I’m not going to lock onto it in time. (Next Yule, it’s a firm date.) “Santa Claus, Claws of Satan. Saint Nick, Old Nick. Coincidence? I don’t think so.” — yes, but that’s far too familiar to work, without a twist.
The hook, beside the obvious reversals (a sack full of children, the lashed-elf sweat shop bunker deep in the polar ice) is the peculiarity of the Santa Claus myth — which is designed to be disbelieved, as a kind of modern rite-of-passage. There’s a side to this worthy of affirmation. Discarding attractive wish-fulfillment myths is a cultural achievement whose massive generalization is long overdue. ‘Santa Claus’ as the idiot god of beneficent unreality is the proto-deity of every lunacy advanced modernity has been subjected to. There’s also another side …
“Santa won’t save us.” If that was something people really grew out of before voting age, there wouldn’t be a left-of-center political party remaining anywhere in the world. This suggests something very different is going on. A ritualized social training in disbelief seems ominously unprecedented, so one naturally wonders about the religious formation that commands this recently innovated power. If there is a disbelief that would set us free, the modern ceremony of Yule — celebrating the occult death of Santa at the Golgotha of secularism — doesn’t seem to be it. On the contrary, it represents a populist version of the Jacobin-Enlightenment Cult of Reason, symbolically purging infantile superstition to be reborn into an approved state of adult consciousness. The Death of Santa is mystery initiation into the New Church. Santa died to redeem humanity from the sins of attachment to Medieval unreason, and every year this sacrifice is ritualistically re-enacted to recall the new covenant. (Go on, tell me this isn’t the narrative.)
Someone ought to write a story about it …
Singapore Airlines is awesome to a preposterous degree — a fact that might feed into the recent outburst of reactionary curmudgeonry about mass air travel (which I need to track down). It was an opportunity to catch up on some movies I’d missed. The most notable of these was Snowpiercer (highly recommended).
It’s one of those movies you have to stick with — give up before you’re halfway through and you’ll have no idea what all the fuss was about, but make it to the end and you’ll know you’ve seen something memorable. The genre is becoming huge. It could probably be described uncontroversially as apocalyptic neoreactionary speculative drama. Gibson’s The Peripheral is self-consciously there. One obvious (and striking) movie comparison is Elysium. In its purest form, the genre goes to rightist places nothing else quite reaches.
It begins with a revolutionary-leftist frame, which is eventually broken on the wheel of irony (more or less occult). The more subterranean the ironization, the more comical the result. In this respect, Snowpiercer is more Animal Farm than Elysium — which is to say, a far more overtly reactionary work. “Order is the barrier that holds back the frozen death. … All things flow from the sacred engine.”
At Changi Airport trying to get reconnected. Try my UF_blog twitter — won’t let me without entering a code, sent to my work email, which is a nightmare to get into outside the office, and simply impossible from here. Never mind, Outsideness will work. Of course, no. Security code sent to my hotmail account this time — which is a little better. Manage to enter my email@example.com id and password OK, after some fat finger aggravation. “Strange activity alert — to confirm your identity enter the code we sent to your gmail account.” What unspeakable cybureaucratic Kafkatatrophism is this?
(Open thread, stuff, links …)
The Operation is being relocated to New Zealand for a couple of weeks, beginning tomorrow, so there is almost certain to be some disruption in the days ahead. I’m definitely aiming to keep some flow going, with year round-up posts a feature, but chaotic meandering is likely to reach unprecedented levels.
As for the week behind us, NBS’s esential reacto-round-up now has a This Week in Dampier sub-section. Among those highlights, hard and soft money posts, some Gruber contrarianism, and a valuable note on the Bezos effect. Anarcho-papist is another production maelstrom, who requires statistical sampling, in this case substantial input into the left (or ‘demotist‘) singularity and deep state discussions. Scharlach reflects on the state’s monopoly of violence. Nyan recommends escape from local noise. Ash Milton provides a useful introduction to the ENR. Anti-Dem discusses tolerance. SoBL suggests a deal (background). Some posts stretch glib summarization. “Everything is broken” (back-story). Was enlightened.
There’s clearly a stimulating engagement with propertarianism to be had (and this post is especially helpful for orientation). NIO recommendations on game theory and spontaneous order (1, 2). Soapjackal wants us all to spend more time here.
Gates and Shockley (Dampier comments). “Mr. Gates may see Shockley’s experience as a warning: If he cares about his reputation he better keep his mouth shut.” White worries. Eco-miscegeny. Anatoly Karlin reminds us of his fascinating Indian IQ posts (1, 2, 3).
This is what my third half has been doing recently:
Tech-Comm NRx approves of this message:
(To replace ‘arrest’ with ‘instant execution by our private security drones’ would be a tweak worth considering. The ‘change’ sign in the background is a nice touch.)
The term is introduced — within a highly critical frame — here. The almost perfect coincidence with techno-commercial NRx (or proto-Patchwork tendencies) is so striking that the adoption of ‘extrastatecraft’ as a positive program falls into place automatically.
Keller Easterling is an architect, writer and professor at Yale University. Her most recent book, Extrastatecraft: The Power of Infrastructure Space (Verso, 2014), examines a new global network woven by money and technology that functions almost like a world shadow government. Though it’s hard to grasp the full extent of this invisible network, Easterling argues that it’s not too late for us to change it.
If it’s not too late to ‘change’ it, it’s not too late to intensify and consolidate it. Tech-comm NRx is obviously doing OK, if it already looks this scary.