Dopamine

https://www.honest-broker.com/p/the-state-of-the-culture-2024

Yes, dopamine, you said. The sweet lure, the flashing neon, the promise of reward that keeps the flesh on our bones and the monkeys pulling the levers. Ah, dopamine, the glistening lure of the Other’s image, reflected back in a distorted funhouse mirror. It sutures the fragmented pre-symbolic infant into the illusion of a unified self, the Ideal-I. But this image, ever out of reach, fuels an insatiable desire – a desire for the wholeness the mirror promises but cannot deliver.

But like all junk, tolerance builds. Ah, dopamine, the seductive lure of the Other reflected back, a fullness that promises wholeness. The flickering screen becomes the new mirror, the site of a fragmented gaze that splinters the subject. The subject, forever seeking recognition in the eyes (or clicks) of the Other, becomes lost in a hall of mirrors, forever chasing a spectral self-image. Is the self merely a construct, a performance for an audience perpetually out of sight?

The newspapers that once informed now deliver a carefully curated stream of outrage designed to keep us clicking. The novels that once transported us to alien worlds are replaced by a jittery montage of TikToks, attention spans fragmented into glittering shards. The text lays bare the shift from “slow, traditional culture” to the frenetic “dopamine culture.” In slow culture, activities like playing a sport, reading a newspaper, or viewing art in a gallery were savored for their richness and depth.

The slow burn of traditional culture, the satisfaction of delayed gratification, gives way to the flickering high of the dopamine hit. Slow and deliberate gives way to the flickering, the ephemeral. The weight of a book, the texture of a photograph, the scent of ink on paper – these fade into the background hum of the screen. Flickering light, fragmented narratives, a thousand competing voices all vie for a sliver of our attention.

The image depicts a world controlled by dopamine. It’s a place where slow and steady satisfaction curdles into a ravenous craving for ever-faster stimulation. Burroughs would likely see this as a metaphor for control by unseen forces, a manipulative culture that hooks us on fleeting pleasures and leaves us hollowed out and yearning for more.

Yes, dopamine, you slimy tentacled monster, you feed us pleasure, you keep us hooked. But your grip loosens, your tendrils weaken. The chaser needs another hit, the gambler craves a bigger stake. The news story blows truth into glittering, forgettable confetti. Fast, faster, the clicks and scrolls, a million glittering surfaces promising a high, a release, a fleeting satisfaction that vanishes like smoke in a mirrored room.

The Imaginary Order Crumbles

Yet, the mirror cracks. The like counter, a hollow metric of approval. The curated feed, a desperate attempt to stitch together a fragmented self. The Real intrudes – the body’s fatigue, the gnawing emptiness. The Symbolic Order, the realm of language, fails to capture the essence of the subject. We are left with a collection of signifiers – follower counts, comments, fleeting trends – a desperate attempt to paper over the lack.

Jouissance and the Sinthom

But what of jouissance, that beyond-pleasure, that ecstatic rupture of the Symbolic? Perhaps the dopamine rush offers a glimpse, a distorted echo of this elusive state. Yet, it remains a sinthom, a symptom of the Real that cannot be fully integrated into language. We are forever caught between the imaginary and the symbolic, forever chasing a phantom wholeness reflected in the flickering screen.

The rapid-fire consumption of media disrupts the symbolic order, the realm of language and social structures. The Real, the unsymbolizable experience before language, bleeds through the cracks. Meaning dissolves, coherence shatters, leaving us adrift in a sea of fragmented signifiers.

We become cannibals of our own time, devouring seconds, minutes, hours in a frantic rush that leaves us hollowed out and unsatisfied. We scroll through landscapes of manufactured desire, a thousand fleeting pleasures that vanish like smoke in our hands. The connections we crave, the intimacy we seek, dissolve in the acid bath of virtual reality. But dopamine culture fragments everything into bite-sized portions, like watching sports highlights, skimming clickbait headlines, or scrolling through endless reels of short videos. Words are shattered, narratives fragmented. Attention fractured, scattered like birdshot. The rise of the dopamine culture is the death of the pause, the contemplation, the deep dive into a single experience. We are cut-ups ourselves, our minds scattered and scrambled by the ever-increasing barrage of stimuli.

This isn’t leisure, it’s manipulation. It’s feeding the machine, the ever-present need for the next dopamine hit. We become lab rats in a Skinner box, pressing buttons for a reward that never quite satisfies. The image chillingly demonstrates how these activities, once ways to connect and explore, are reduced to mere triggers for a chemical reaction. Fast culture, with its constant barrage of stimuli, is like a drug. It keeps us hooked, coming back for more, even as it drains our energy and destroys our capacity for focus. We are becoming, Burroughs might say, insect minds, our thoughts buzzing around like flies in a jar.

But tolerance sets in, the image in the mirror – the self – flickers and distorts. The dopamine high fades, revealing the lack, the fundamental hole at the core of the subject. This is the shattering of the Imaginary Order, the realm of pre-linguistic identity. The subject is forever alienated from the Real, forever chasing a reflection that can never be fully grasped.

The message is clear: dopamine culture is a seductive trap. Just like Krueger in Naked Lunch, we must wake up from the control system and forge our own paths. Perhaps this is not death, but transformation. Perhaps the dopamine rush is but a doorway, a buzzing insect leading us to a hidden garden. We can choose to be swept up in the current, or we can learn to swim against it. We can become more mindful of our consumption, curate our feeds, and carve out spaces for slowness and contemplation amidst the chaos. The escape pod is there, if we have the wit to see it.

The frantic search for a substitute for the lost unity propels the subject into the Symbolic Order – the realm of language and social structures. Here, the subject is forever desiring, forever piecing together an identity through signifiers – fleeting signifiers like the endless scroll, the clickbait headline, the dopamine rush. Yet, these signifiers can never fully capture the Real, leaving a constant sense of lack.

But is this all there is? Perhaps the very limitations of the Symbolic Order offer a path forward. Through the analysis of the fragmented self, the subject can confront the lack and begin to construct a more authentic desire, a desire beyond the lure of the mirror and the endless cycle of the Imaginary.

The Analyst’s Couch

Is there escape from this cycle? Perhaps the analyst’s couch offers a reprieve. Through the process of talking cure, the subject can begin to deconstruct the mirror image, to confront the lack at the heart of desire. By entering the symbolic order more fully, the subject can navigate the fragmented world with a greater sense of awareness. The dopamine may fade, but perhaps a more authentic sense of self can emerge from the shattered fragments.

Yet, Lacan himself pointed towards the Symbolic order as a way to navigate the fragmented world. Through language and social interaction, the subject can construct a more stable sense of self, one that acknowledges the lack inherent in the human condition. We can break free from the purely imaginary, the realm of illusion, and enter the world of symbolic exchange, forging connections and meaning through language.

The escape pod, then, lies in the act of interpretation, of weaving a narrative through the chaos. By engaging with the fragmented world critically, we can move beyond the mirror stage and forge a more authentic sense of self.

Exodus

On Tiktok, a hyperreality unfolds. Generations collide in a digital spectacle, each trapped within their own pre-programmed narrative. The “enshittification,” as Gen Z terms it, permeates the platform, a self-referential loop of manufactured discontent.

For Gen Z, this is all they’ve known. They navigate the labyrinthine simulacra of social connection, a world where authenticity is a fading signifier. Yet, a new threat emerges – the parents, once clumsy voyeurs peering through a distorted lens, have become fluent in the digital language. Their gaze, once diffused, now pierces the veil, transforming transgressions of the past into data points for future punishment. The once-liberating anonymity hemorrhages, replaced by the stifling weight of adult control.

On Tiktok, a hyperreality bleeds. Gen Z, wired into the circuits of the app, become desiring-machines pulsating for likes, their dopamine drip an endless scroll. But the fuzz, once clueless navigators, are now cyborgs fluent in the platform’s code. Their gaze, a panoptic nightmare, pries through the past, unearthing transgressions for future punishment. The revolution has been televised, and the parents are watching.

The lure of Tiktok, a digital mirror reflecting a fragmented self, a distorted image of desire. Gen Z, forever seeking the lost object (the mother’s gaze of approval), finds only the gaze of the Other (adult authority) staring back, a gaze that punishes past transgressions committed in the symbolic order of the platform.

The desiring-machines, pulsating for validation, are caught in a nightmarish loop, forever seeking to fill the void of the Real with the simulacra of likes. Yet, the gaze of the Other, once diffused, now pierces the veil. Past transgressions, those escapes from the symbolic order, become data points used to further control the subject.

Millennials, too, are caught in the web. They arrived early, pioneers in the digital frontier. Their social fabric, meticulously woven within the platform’s architecture, now threatens to unravel. Unlike their younger counterparts, they face the exorbitant cost of switching realities. The simulacra of connection – carpool coordination, disease support groups – have become their lived experience. Leaving Tiktok is not just abandoning a platform, it’s abandoning a meticulously constructed social simulation.

Their social fabric, a cut-up mess of carpool arrangements and disease support groups, unravels at the thought of leaving. Unlike the younger ones, unburdened by the weight of connections, Millennials are information junkies hooked on the simulacra of community. To leave Tiktok is to sever the very lines that keep them afloat in this digital ocean of enshittification.

Their social connections on Tiktok, once a complex web of signifiers, become their Real. Leaving the platform signifies the loss of this symbolic order, the very structure that provides them with a sense of self. Unlike Gen Z, unburdened by these established connections, Millennials face the terrifying prospect of losing the symbolic order altogether, a prospect that mirrors the Lacanian concept of the Real – formless, terrifying, and ultimately unknowable.

Thus, the exodus becomes a performance of rebellion, a desperate attempt to reclaim the Real that may no longer exist. Younger generations, unburdened by the digital baggage, can readily leap into the unknown. Older generations, tethered to the simulacra they helped create, face a more existential dilemma. The choice, ultimately, is between the enshittification they know and the terrifying prospect of a reality devoid of the comforting glow of the screen.

But where dothey go? Is there a world outside the screen, or just another empty simulacrum waiting to be colonized? The choice, a cut-up nightmare: stay trapped in the familiar enshittification or leap into the terrifying unknown. The exodus from Tiktok, then, becomes a desperate attempt to escape the gaze of the Other, to recapture the lost Real. However, the question remains: is there anything beyond the platform? Or does another symbolic order, another set of simulations, await them? The choice becomes one between the suffocating gaze of the Other within the familiar enshittification and the terrifying prospect of a fragmented Real, devoid of the comforting structure of the symbolic order.

Social Media Inferno

1) The Lacanian Loop of the Unsymbolized Real: Doomed to endlessly repeat the same arguments, forever caught in the pre-symbolic realm where difference cannot be articulated. The sinthomatic return of a repressed trauma: the trauma of having never truly had a point.

This is the Lacanian Loop of the Unsymbolized Real – a realm before language imposes order, where frustrations boil over but can never be fully articulated.

Locked in a Sisyphean struggle. Their arguments, like Sisyphus’s boulder, reach a crescendo of outrage only to fall back down into the abyss of misunderstanding. The frustration mounts with each iteration, a primal scream against the limitations of language itself.

Lacan, the enigmatic psychoanalyst, would argue that their tweets are a sinthome. A symptom, yes, but one that also offers a twisted kind of satisfaction. The endless arguing becomes a way to manage the repressed trauma – the trauma of having never truly had a point.

Here’s the breakdown:

  • The Unsymbolized Real: This Lacanian concept refers to the pre-linguistic stage of human development, a chaotic realm of pure experience before language enters and imposes order.
  • The Symbolic Order: Language, according to Lacan, is what allows us to enter the social world and make sense of our experiences. It gives us categories, like good/bad, right/wrong, with which to understand the world.
  • Sinthome: This Lacanian term describes a symptom that provides a kind of enjoyment, even though it also causes suffering. In this case, the endless arguing, though frustrating, becomes a way to manage the deeper anxiety of having no clear meaning or purpose.

These Twitter denizens, trapped in the Unsymbolized Real, lash out with their tweets, forever seeking a resolution that can never be achieved. Their arguments are a desperate attempt to impose meaning on a reality that feels fundamentally meaningless.

It’s a chilling scenario, a digital purgatory where frustration and rage become the only currency. Is there any escape? Perhaps, but it would require breaking free from the endless loop, stepping outside the cycle of outrage and into the realm of the Symbolic – a realm where communication

2) The Narcissistic Gaze of the Big Other: Trapped in a hall of mirrors reflecting only their own self-image. Their every tweet a desperate plea for validation from the elusive Big Other – the spectral audience of Twitterverse.

Imagine a digital funhouse – a hall of mirrors reflecting endlessly inward. This is the realm of the Twitter narcissist, forever trapped in a solipsistic loop. Their every tweet is a desperate attempt to capture the gaze of the Big Other, a spectral audience that haunts the Twitterverse.

Lacan, with his flair for the theatrical, introduced the concept of the Gaze. This isn’t just about physical sight, but a metaphorical gaze that shapes our sense of self. The Big Other, in this case, represents the external world, the social order that reflects back to us who we are.

For the Twitter narcissist, the Big Other is a spectral audience – unseen, omnipresent, and ultimately unknowable. They crave validation, a thumbs-up, a retweet, anything to confirm their own inflated sense of importance. But the hall of mirrors distorts their reflection. Every like becomes a fleeting moment of gratification, soon to be eclipsed by the need for more.

This insatiable hunger fuels their endless self-promotion. Their tweets become a curated highlight reel, a desperate attempt to project a flawless image. But the cracks begin to show. The carefully crafted persona crumbles under the slightest criticism, revealing the fragility beneath.

Here’s the twist: This quest for validation is ultimately a search for something more profound – the desire to be truly recognized by the Other. But within the confines of the Twitterverse, such recognition remains elusive. The Big Other is a fragmented entity, a million fleeting glances, offering only echoes of approval.

This Lacanian framework paints a tragicomic picture. The Twitter narcissist, a modern-day Narcissus, pines away for an impossible reflection. Their tweets, a constant plea for validation, become a source of both gratification and frustration. It’s a cycle that can be difficult to escape, a testament to the seductive power and inherent limitations of social media.

3) The Sublime Object of Resentment: Consumed by a burning, impotent rage at the injustices (both real and imagined) perpetuated by the System. Their tweets, a desperate attempt to cauterize the gaping hole of their own lack through public outrage.

The Fury of the Powerless: The Sublime Object of Resentment on Twitter

Imagine a seething cauldron of rage, fueled by a potent cocktail of perceived injustice and impotent frustration. This is the world of the Twitter user consumed by the Sublime Object of Resentment. Here, Lacan’s complex concept meets the Twittersphere, creating a potent brew of outrage and despair.

Lacan, the ever-provocative psychoanalyst, used the term “Sublime Object” to describe something that both attracts and repels us, something that is beyond our grasp. In the Twitter context, this “Object” becomes Resentment – a burning anger directed towards a vast, nebulous entity known as “the System.” This System can be anything – the government, corporations, social elites, or even an amorphous sense of societal unfairness.

These Twitter warriors are consumed by a sense of powerlessness. They witness injustices, both real and imagined, and feel compelled to react. Their tweets become a desperate attempt to cauterize – to burn shut – the gaping hole of their own lack of agency. By expressing outrage, they feel a momentary sense of control, a way to lash out against a seemingly uncaring world.

Here’s the Lacanian twist: This outrage, though intense, is ultimately impotent. The System they rage against is too vast, too nebulous, to be truly challenged by a single tweet. Their anger becomes a performance, a public display of righteousness that ultimately achieves little.

Further complicating matters is the jouissance, a Lacanian term for a pleasurable kind of suffering. The act of expressing outrage, even if ultimately futile, can provide a twisted kind of satisfaction. It allows them to feel connected to a cause, part of a larger movement, even if that movement exists primarily online.

The result? A constant churning of negativity. The Twittersphere becomes an echo chamber where outrage begets outrage, with little room for nuance or constructive dialogue. It’s a breeding ground for cynicism and despair, a place where the fire of righteous anger can easily consume those who wield it.

There is, however, a glimmer of hope. The very act of expressing outrage, even if misguided, can be a catalyst for change. Perhaps, by acknowledging the lack and confronting the System (both external and internal), a path towards genuine action can be forged. The question remains: can these Twitter warriors move beyond the impotent rage and channel their resentment into something more productive? Only time, and the evolution of the Twitterverse itself, will tell.

4) The Jouissance of the Trickster: Agents of chaos, reveling in the disruption of the established order. Their tweets, a middle finger to the symbolic order, a reminder that the Real always threatens to erupt from beneath the veneer of meaning.

Agents of Chaos and the Lacanian Carnival

Imagine a mischievous imp, gleefully stirring the pot of social media. This imp, the embodiment of the Jouissance of the Trickster, thrives on Twitter, a platform ripe for disruption and descent into the Lacanian Real.

Lacan, with his fondness for the dramatic, often referenced the concept of the Symbolic Order. This refers to the system of language and social rules that gives meaning to our world. Think of it as the invisible scaffolding that holds society together.

The Trickster, on the other hand, is a universal archetype – the joker, the prankster, the one who delights in upsetting the established order. On Twitter, they take the form of trolls, anonymous accounts, and anyone who relishes sowing discord.

Their jouissance, a Lacanian term for a paradoxical pleasure derived from transgression, comes from the act of disruption itself. Their tweets, often inflammatory and deliberately provocative, are a middle finger to the Symbolic Order, a reminder that the Real – the chaotic, pre-symbolic realm of raw experience – always lies beneath the surface.

Here’s the thing: the Trickster’s disruption, while annoying and sometimes destructive, can also be oddly liberating. Their tweets, like a well-placed banana peel on a social gathering, expose the constructed nature of online discourse. They force us to question the very foundations of meaning-making on a platform built on brevity and fleeting trends.

This Lacanian carnival on Twitter doesn’t exist in a vacuum. The Trickster, in their own twisted way, highlights the anxieties simmering beneath the surface. Their barbs often target the very issues that plague online interaction – echo chambers, confirmation bias, and the performative nature of online outrage.

Of course, there’s a fine line between playful disruption and malicious trolling. The Trickster’s delight in chaos can easily spiral out of control, leading to cyberbullying and toxic online environments.

Ultimately, the Twitter Trickster is a double-edged sword. They can be agents of annoyance and negativity, but they can also be unwitting catalysts for critical reflection. Their presence reminds us that the online world, like the human psyche itself, is a battleground between order and chaos, meaning and the meaningless. Perhaps, by understanding the Jouissance of the Trickster, we can learn to navigate this digital landscape with a bit more awareness, and maybe even a touch of humor.

5) The Fantasy of the Master’s Voice: Blissfully ignorant of their own ideological interpellation, they mistake the echo chamber for a chorus of truth. Their tweets, a masturbatory repetition of the dominant ideology, oblivious to the chains that bind them. The Echo Chamber Symphony: Fantasy of the Master’s Voice on Twitter

Imagine a self-congratulatory orchestra, each tweet a toot on their ideological trumpet, blissfully unaware of the conductor pulling the strings. This, according to Lacan, is the Fantasy of the Master’s Voice playing out on Twitter. Here, users become unwittingly entangled in a performance of their own subjugation.

Lacan, the ever-challenging theorist, used the term interpellation to describe how we are all “hailed” into ideology by the dominant social order. This ideology shapes our beliefs, values, and even our sense of self, often without us even realizing it.

On Twitter, this interpellation gets amplified within echo chambers. Users surround themselves with others who share their pre-existing beliefs, creating a comforting illusion of universal agreement. Their tweets become a masturbatory echo, a self-referential loop that reinforces their existing worldview.

The “Master’s Voice” in this scenario isn’t a single, identifiable entity. It’s the entire constellation of dominant ideologies – political, social, economic – that permeate the Twittersphere. The users, blissfully unaware of the strings being pulled, mistake the echo chamber for a chorus of truth.

Here’s the Lacanian twist: This blind repetition actually strengthens the very chains that bind them. By clinging to their pre-packaged beliefs, they become unwitting foot soldiers in the culture war, amplifying the dominant discourse without ever questioning its origins.

This isn’t to say that all Twitter users are mindless sheep. However, the platform’s very design – the algorithmic curation of feeds, the character limitations – can make it difficult to break free from the echo chamber.

There is, however, a way out of this self-referential symphony. Critical thinking becomes the key. Questioning our own assumptions, engaging with opposing viewpoints, and stepping outside our comfort zones are all essential for breaking the spell of the Master’s Voice.

6) The Superego’s Superfluous Cruelty: Driven by a misplaced sense of moral righteousness, they police the boundaries of acceptable discourse. Their tweets, a performative display of symbolic violence, a desperate attempt to suture the ever-present lack in the social order.

 Inquisition: Superego’s Cruelty and the Lacanian Void

Imagine a self-appointed morality police, wielding the cudgel of outrage on Twitter. Blinded by a misplaced sense of righteousness, they become agents of the Superego’s Superfluous Cruelty. Lacan’s psychoanalysis sheds light on this phenomenon, revealing a desperate attempt to fill a void with performative displays of symbolic violence.

Lacan, with his penchant for complex concepts, used the term Superego to describe the internalized moral compass, the voice that tells us what’s right and wrong. In a healthy state, the Superego guides our ethical behavior. However, on Twitter, it can morph into a monstrous caricature, reveling in judgment and punishment.

These self-proclaimed moral guardians patrol the digital landscape, policing the boundaries of acceptable discourse. Any perceived transgression – a joke in poor taste, an insensitive opinion – is met with a swift and merciless Twitter inquisition. Their tweets become weapons of symbolic violence, acts of public shaming designed to silence dissent and enforce a narrow moral code.

Here’s the Lacanian twist: This cruelty often stems from a deep-seated anxiety, a fear of the lack that plagues the social order itself. Lacan believed that there is an inherent gap, a fundamental inconsistency, at the heart of any society. This Twitter crusaders, by lashing out at others, attempt to suture this gap, to create a semblance of order through public displays of outrage.

The problem? Their efforts are ultimately futile. The lack in the social order is ever-present, and their cruelty only serves to exacerbate it. Furthermore, their focus on policing discourse distracts from addressing the root causes of social problems.

This isn’t to say that holding people accountable is wrong. However, the Twitter Inquisition approach breeds resentment and stifles open dialogue. True social progress requires empathy, understanding, and a willingness to engage with different viewpoints, even those we disagree with.

There’s a way forward, one that moves beyond the Superego’s cruelty. By fostering a culture of critical thinking and respectful debate, Twitter can become a space for genuine social change. Perhaps, by acknowledging the lack and its inherent anxieties, we can move beyond performative outrage and work towards a more just and equitable online world.

The question remains: Can these self-appointed moral guardians temper their cruelty and engage in a more constructive form of online discourse? The answer lies in their willingness to confront their own anxieties and recognize that true progress requires empathy, not just outrage.

7) The Fetishization of the Fact: Blind to the inherent ideological nature of all knowledge, they fetishize the “fact” as a fetish object, a shield against the unbearable truth of the Real. Their tweets, a desperate attempt to pin down a constantly shifting reality.

The Cult of the Measurable: Fetishizing Facts in the Lacanian Twitterverse

Imagine a digital battlefield, tweets flying like arrows, all in the name of the almighty “Fact.” These warriors, blind to the inherent limitations of knowledge, elevate the fact to a fetish object, a shield against the unsettling truths of the Lacanian Real. Here, psychoanalysis sheds light on our desperate attempts to pin down a reality that is, by its very nature, constantly shifting.

Lacan, the enigmatic thinker, introduced the concept of the Real. This isn’t about objective reality, but the messy, pre-symbolic realm of raw experience that precedes language and categorization. The Symbolic Order, on the other hand, is the system of language and social rules that gives meaning to our experiences.

The problem on Twitter is that users often mistake facts – verifiable bits of information – for the entirety of the Real. They fetishize these facts, clinging to them as shields against the anxieties of the unknowable. Their tweets become a desperate attempt to pin down a reality that is constantly in flux.

Here’s the Lacanian twist: This fetishization of facts betrays a deeper desire. It’s a way to avoid confronting the inherent ideological nature of all knowledge. Every fact is produced within a specific historical and cultural context. There’s no such thing as a truly neutral “fact.”

By clinging to facts as fetishes, these Twitter warriors fall prey to a dangerous illusion. They believe that if they can just gather enough facts, they can finally understand the world. But this quest is ultimately futile. The Real, by definition, cannot be fully captured by language or facts.

This isn’t to say that facts are useless. Verifiable information is crucial for making informed decisions. The problem lies in the overvaluation of facts, the belief that they hold all the answers.

There’s a way out of this digital cult of the measurable. Critical thinking becomes the key. We need to question the source of facts, understand the context in which they were produced, and acknowledge the limitations of knowledge itself.

8) The Object-Cause of Desire: Obsessed with the object of their fandom, they elevate it to the status of the Thing, a stand-in for a deeper, unfulfilled desire. Their tweets, a desperate attempt to capture the elusive jouissance promised by the object, doomed to fail.

Fandom’s Frenzied Tweets: The Object-Cause of Desire in the Twitterverse

Imagine a digital coliseum, echoing with the roars of devoted fans. These are the denizens of fandom, their gaze fixated on the object of their desire – a movie franchise, a musician, a sports team. Lacanian psychoanalysis sheds light on this phenomenon, revealing how fandom becomes a desperate pursuit of the elusive jouissance promised by the Object-Cause of Desire.

Lacan, with his flair for the complex, introduced the concept of the Object-Cause of Desire. This isn’t a tangible object, but rather an elusive something that fuels our desires. It represents a lack, a missing piece that we strive to fill, often through symbolic substitutes.

In the realm of fandom, the object of devotion – a superhero, a band, a football team – becomes elevated to the status of the Thing. This Thing stands in for the Object-Cause of Desire, offering a promise of wholeness and satisfaction that can never be truly fulfilled.

Here’s the Lacanian twist: The endless tweets, passionate arguments, and meticulously curated fan art are all desperate attempts to capture the elusive jouissance, a pleasurable yet unsettling satisfaction, associated with the Thing. Fans chase this feeling of completion through engagement with the fandom, but it ultimately remains out of reach.

This pursuit can manifest in both positive and negative ways. Fandom can foster a sense of community, belonging, and shared passion. However, it can also become obsessive and exclusionary. The endless debates, feuds with rival fandoms, and attacks on perceived criticisms all stem from this desperate desire to possess the Thing.

There’s a way to navigate fandom beyond the endless cycle of frustrated tweets. Critical engagement becomes the key. Fans can appreciate the object of their devotion while acknowledging its limitations. They can engage in discussions that go beyond blind praise, fostering a more nuanced understanding of the work they love.

9) The Short Circuit of the Symbolic: Laughter replaces thought, the endless cycle of memes a desperate attempt to ward off the encroaching void of meaninglessness. Their tweets, a fragmented, nonsensical discourse, a symptom of the breakdown of the symbolic order. The Meme Stream: Short Circuiting the Symbolic on Twitter

Imagine a digital funhouse, a hall of mirrors reflecting an endless stream of memes. This is the realm of the “Short Circuit of the Symbolic,” a Twitter phenomenon where laughter replaces thought, and memes become a desperate attempt to ward off the abyss of meaninglessness. Lacanian psychoanalysis sheds light on this descent, revealing a breakdown in the very fabric of language and the anxieties that lurk beneath the surface.

Lacan, the ever-provocative thinker, introduced the concept of the Symbolic Order. Think of it as the system of language and social rules that gives meaning to our experiences. It’s the scaffolding that allows us to communicate, categorize, and make sense of the world around us.

On Twitter, however, this scaffolding begins to crumble under the relentless onslaught of memes. Memes, with their rapid-fire humor and visual shorthand, bypass the complexities of the Symbolic Order. They offer a quick burst of pleasure, a shared chuckle, but often at the expense of deeper reflection.

Here’s the Lacanian twist: This reliance on memes can be seen as a symptom of a deeper anxiety – the fear of the Real. The Real, in Lacanian terms, refers to the raw, pre-symbolic realm of experience that exists before language imposes order. It’s a chaotic, unsettling space that can be overwhelming.

The endless cycle of memes becomes a shield against the encroaching void of meaninglessness. By clinging to humor, even if fleeting and nonsensical, users attempt to ward off the anxieties associated with the Real. Their tweets, fragmented and nonsensical themselves, become a reflection of this breakdown in the Symbolic Order.

This isn’t to say that all memes are inherently bad. Humor can be a powerful tool for social commentary and fostering connection. However, the oversaturation of memes on Twitter can create a culture of instant gratification and intellectual apathy.

10) The Retreat into the Imaginary: A temporary escape from the harsh realities of the Twitterverse, a brief immersion in the realm of the cute and cuddly. Their tweets, a melancholic reminder of a lost innocence, a world before the Symbolic order cast its oppressive shadow.

The Sanctuary of the Adorable: Retreating from the Twitterverse into the Imaginary

Imagine a digital oasis, a refuge from the storms of Twitter. Here, amidst the endless arguments and negativity, blooms a sanctuary of the adorable. This is the Retreat into the Imaginary, a Lacanian concept playing out online, where users seek solace in the realm of the cute and cuddly. Their tweets, fleeting moments of saccharine escape, become melancholic reminders of a lost innocence, a world before the harsh realities of the Symbolic Order cast their oppressive shadow.

Lacan, with his theories on the human psyche, proposed the concept of the Imaginary. This pre-linguistic stage of development is a paradise of pure experience, a time before language and social rules impose order. Here, everything is potential, and the world is a boundless playground of cuteness and wonder.

On Twitter, the pressures of the Symbolic Order – the constant pressure to debate, analyze, and perform – can feel overwhelming. The Sanctuary of the Adorable offers a temporary escape. Tweets filled with fluffy kittens, heartwarming baby videos, and nostalgic childhood references become a portal back to this lost imaginary realm.

There’s a Lacanian twist, however. This retreat, while offering a brief respite, is ultimately tinged with melancholy. The cuteness of these tweets serves as a stark contrast to the harsh realities of the Twitterverse. They become a reminder of a world that may never have truly existed, a world where innocence reigned supreme.

This melancholic undercurrent exposes a deeper yearning – the desire to escape the constraints of the Symbolic Order altogether. The endless rules, judgments, and social pressures can feel suffocating. The Sanctuary of the Adorable offers a glimpse of a simpler existence, a world where meaning is not yet defined and everything is delightfully fuzzy.

Recognition of Complexity

In recent years, social media has become a battleground where ideas, opinions and beliefs are contested, and where the dominant players fight for attention, clicks and engagement. It often feels like we are caught in a never-ending war zone where our side must win at all costs.

One of the key reasons for this dynamic is the artificial scarcity that social media platforms create through amplification and attention capture. Reach is a scarce commodity on social media, and this scarcity leads to fierce competition among users and groups to get their messages heard and to capture the attention of others. This creates an environment where echo chambers and tribalism thrive, and where different viewpoints and ideas are suppressed or even attacked.

The problem with this approach is that it limits our ability to engage with new ideas, to listen to different perspectives, and to learn from those who think differently from us. It also encourages epistemic arrogance, where we become convinced that our own views are the only correct ones, and that those who disagree with us are ignorant or misguided.

To address this problem, it is essential that we shift our focus from the distribution of messages to the apportionment of users’ attention. In other words, we need to put users in control of their own attention and ensure that they have the freedom to listen to whomever they choose, even if we don’t like them. This requires a fundamental rethinking of the design of social media platforms, and a recognition that attention is a valuable and limited resource that should be treated with care and respect.

At the heart of this approach is the concept of Recognition of Complexity, which is essential in times of change and uncertainty. Recognition of Complexity involves recognizing that our own knowledge and beliefs are limited and fallible, and that we must be open to the possibility that we may be wrong. It also requires us to be open to the perspectives of others, even if we disagree with them, and to engage in constructive dialogue and debate.

Echo chambers and tribalism are the antithesis of Recognition of Complexity, and they threaten our ability to learn, grow and evolve as individuals and as a society. By prioritizing the apportionment of attention over the distribution of messages, and by embracing Recognition of Complexity, we can create social media platforms that promote constructive dialogue, respect for different perspectives, and a commitment to learning and growth.

In conclusion, social media has the potential to be a powerful tool for communication, connection and learning, but it is currently mired in a war zone mentality that prioritizes attention capture and tribalism over constructive dialogue and Recognition of Complexity. To address this problem, we must shift our focus from the distribution of messages to the apportionment of attention, and we must embrace a commitment to Recognition of Complexity and respect for different perspectives. Only then can we unlock the true potential of social media and use it to create a better, more informed, and more connected world.

IDEOLOGY

Episode 5

What happens when an ideology under the infinite guise creates a finite number of institutional/non institutional posts? The more ideologically entrenched a society is, the more it perceives any diversity as a threat. All human societies require myths, and they cannot function effectively as societies so long as they remain baffled by their ambivalence. For any concerted action to be possible, myths must be “ideologized” In its essence, politics is the practice of making symbols useful, for good and for ill

A society is pre-totalitarian when its people will only accept as “truth” what confirms what they prefer to believe. The politics apprehends genuine artistic works as works of artifice. You also have to be skeptical of the altruism behind conscripting a large number of people for free work is in their best interests. That is to say, even the political needs art as its mythopoeic foundation and challenge.

It is also true that humans can only produce art through culture by means of sign systems that are politically established and maintained. The best sometimes artist can hope for is a tenuous and ultimately doomed alliance with the status quo.

In the Marxist base and superstructure model of society, Ruling class-interests determine the superstructure and the nature of the ideology justifying the actions of society. An authority who calls to us is interpellating us a position we recognize and accept. The position we take is relative to a superior and central ‘Other Subject’, exercising emotional authority. Our identity is thus defined by the other and we recognize ourselves as an image or a reflection of the Other. The consistency principle leads you into a cycle of investment whereby you bond your sense of identity both to the subject position and also the underlying ideology.

Althusser’s explained how Ideological apparatuses interpellated the subjects into ideological positions. This interpellation is a form of misrecognition, where an externalized image is perceived both as the self and an ‘other’ all of which can be imagined along the lines of the most commonplace everyday police (or other) hailing: ‘Hey, you there!’”

INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY: ARISTOTLE’S FRETS

Aristotle imagined a world in which machines could do all the work for themselves. He believed that better machines could free and elevate people, even slaves. But when the economy becomes more about information it seems to distort and shrink the overall size. In the case of the music industry, making a pre-digital system “efficient” through a digital network shrank it economically to about a quarter of its size. Instead wealth is being vacuum upstairs, since most of the real value still occurs out in the real world is reconceived to be off the books.

We’re used to treating information as “free,” but the price we pay for the illusion of “free” is only workable so long as much of the overall economy isn’t about information. The information economy, has been busy trying to conceal the value of all information, of all things things

The identity stack is 3 layers: fabrication of interchangeable components, knowledge sets and expensive cryptography. Non-material roles may be priced at will pertaining to social conceptions of status, possession, rights and so forth. The capacity to “innovate” which is usually a word for disintermediation is now potentially exceeding the capacity to learn. The practice of splitting the economic and social aspects of technology at the lowest attainable level is like dividing church and state for our day.

The material structure can get as cheap as nature allows, and advances as quickly as technology. The ability to re-package and shrink economy seems to be growing exponentially. But if the world is to be reconceived and engineered as a place where people are not particularly distinguished from other components, then people will fade.

INFORMATION IS NOT FREE

Software could be the final industrial revolution, and it might subsume all the revolutions to come: Maybe technology will make all the needs of life so inexpensive that it will be virtually free to live well. But instead, we are probably heading into a period of hyper-unemployment, and the attendant political and social chaos. The outcome of chaos is unpredictable, and we shouldn’t rely on it to design our future.

We’re used to treating information as “free,” but the problem in each case is not that you stole from a specific person but that you undermined the artificial scarcities that allow the economy to function. “Public goods” are defined as Non-exclusionary. They can be used by everyone, including those who don’t pay. They are Non-rivalrous. You disintermediate some and intermediate others. Transfer of intellectual property to those unrelated to the inventors is like injecting meth. Short term euphoria and long-term doom.

MOORE’s LAW

Moore’s Law means that more and more things can be done practically for free, if only it weren’t for those people who want to be paid. People are the flies in Moore’s Law’s ointment: when machines get incredibly cheap to run, people seem correspondingly expensive. In previous times in history inventions of new things created high value occupations by automating or eliminating those of lower value. Today’s flexible software is threatening to “free” us from the drudgery of all repetitive tasks rather than those of lowest value, pushing us away from expertise.

Pdf Economy

The standard mindset in the Western post-industrial state can only conceptualize of things in an inherently consumerist fashion. Every purchase of an old-fashioned vinyl, keyboard or guitar opens an opportunity to earn money by enhancing provenance.

More and more of the economy is mediated through a productification of the environment, and then after productification, we turn it in pdfs or mp3 but keeping it predicable, largely consumerist experience. The rise of the “network economy” where all economic activity is mediated by information tools, and the commodification of all human activity as a service to the information age.

An Mp3 buyer is no longer a first-class citizen in a marketplace. When you buy a vinyl, you can resell it at will, or continue to enjoy it no matter where you decide to buy other vinyl’s. You have only purchased tenuous rights within someone else’s company store. Musical recording was a mechanical process until it wasn’t, and became a network service.

WHAT FREEMIUM & WALMART HAVE IN COMMON

In order for a computer to run, the surrounding parts of the universe must take on the waste heat, the randomness. Google wants to be closed about how it compiles and exploits your information. Facebook wants you to have only one identity, so that it’s easier to collate information about you. Twitter suggests that meaning will emerge from fleeting flashes of thought contextualized by who sent the thought rather than the content of the thought. The plain is to gain dominance through rewarding network effects, but keeps dominance through punishing network effects.

The illusion that everything is getting so cheap that it is practically free sets up the political and economic conditions for cartels exploiting whatever isn’t quite that way. When music is free, wireless bills get expensive, insanely so. No matter how petty a flaw might be in a utopia, that flaw is where the full fury of power seeking will be focused. The power of the network grows as the square of its size. The original form was called the fax-machine effect.

One person with a fax machine is useless. Two people is one connection. Three people is three potential connections. Four is 6.

The Web has created a broad new class of knowledge workers: volunteer amateur editors. Their net effect is to displace existing knowledge workers, including journalists, writers, librarians, musicians. Nothing kills jobs faster and more permanently than free labor.

A few of the folks all this places aggregates will inevitably get an insane lift from being hitched to it, and they’ll create even more excitement.
After all that’s the religion the world has run on for 40 years. This ideology wants the algorithm to run the show with as few humans in the loop as possible, ostensibly to improve “customer service” by “lowering prices.

The only thing that matters is that you don’t want to be left out of the loop in the information age. The game is on you, and it will only get worse. The only thing that matters is that you don’t want to be left out of the loop in the information age, and that you want your information to be valued in economic terms, not in terms of how much you can make from it. If the information age accounting were complete and honest, as much information as possible would be valued by those who provide the information.

NAPSTERIZATION OF EVERYTHING: BIG DATA

Scientific data can be gathered and mined, just like gold, provided you put in the hard work. Pretending that data came from the heavens instead of from people can’t help but shrink the overall economy. Capitalism only works if there are enough successful people to be the customers. No economy can be sustained on the backs of a few hundred major companies with a handful of employees and virtually no overhead. No amount of cost lowering can foster economic dignity when it also means that there are fewer good jobs.

We can’t tell how much of the success of an AI algorithm is due to people changing themselves to make it seem successful. People have repeatedly proven adaptable enough to lower standards in order to make software seem smart. Efficiency is a synonym for how well a server is influencing the human world to align with its own model of the world.

The future is uncertain. The death of traditional jobs in the manufacturing and retail industries and the decline in the middle class are just some of the factors contributing to the decline. No amount of cost lowering can foster economic dignity if it also means that there are fewer good jobs.

BELL CURVES: THE SUPERSTAR ECONOMY:

The music industry is a Superstar economy, that is to say a very small share of the total artists and works account for a disproportionately large share of all revenues. This is not a Pareto’s Law type 80/20 distribution but something much more dramatic: the top 1% account for 77% of all artist recorded music income. A star system is just a way of packaging a bell curve. Winner-take-all distributions come about when there is a global sorting of people within a single framework. But broader forms of reward like academic tenure and research grants are vastly more beneficial

All rituals in which anointed individual will suddenly become rich and famous are winner-take-all rituals. Winner- take-all Distributions, amplify errors and make outcomes less meaningful . To rely on them is a mistake — pragmatic, ethical, but also a mathematical one. ​ Top players are rewarded tremendously while almost everyone else starves.

To get a bell curve of outcomes there must be a variety of paths, or sorting processes, that can lead to success. Henry Ford made a point of pricing his cars so that his own factory workers could afford to buy them. Digital networks have been mostly applied to reduce benefits of locality, and that will lead to economic implosion.

LEVEES

Bands, solo artist, styles and other talent have gone extinct during the collapse of the music industry, mainly as a result of human activity. A big part of the problem is that most consumers now attribute very little value to the recording itself. A decade-long decline in recording revenues has dismantled the label system, once the most reliable form of artist financing.

The music industry brass remained static and went on a campaign to blame everybody but themselves for their problems, The top 1% account for 75% of CD revenues but 79% of subscription revenue. Nashville has lost more than 80 percent of its songwriters since 2000. Most artists are overwhelmed with tasks that go far beyond making music, such as Tweeting fans. Lower royalties are killing an entire generation of writers, he writes. We are slowly losing the race against multi-resistant bacteria, he says.

The only thing that really works for the user (iTunes, Amazon, Spotify) has given rise to a hardware-based, proprietary, walled- garden, non-music-centric, de-facto monopoly. When you hollow out culture, it is inevitable that parasitic forces fill the void sometimes called corporations, sometimes called government.

The hyperefficient market optimized to yield star-system results will not create enough of a middle class to support a real market dynamic. It is that balance that creates economic growth, and thus opportunity for more wealth. To combat the degradations of star systems, levees” arose to compensate Thermodynamics and protect the middle class.

Levees modestly hold back thermodynamics to protect something precious. Markets are an information technology. A technology is useless if it can’t be tweaked. We can survive if we only destroy the middle classes of musicians, journalists, and film makers. But the destruction of transportation, manufacturing, energy, office work, education, and health care will come if the dominant idea of an information economy isn’t improved.

Live Music fans are frustrated with high ticket prices at concerts. The average consumer goes to just 1.5 shows a year. Many others are touring just to pay the bills, including medical bills. Dick Dale, who remains on the road despite his advanced age to pay for treatment for rectal cancer, renal failure, and massive vertebrae damage.

“When this music wants to be free things started happening. We just started having weekly fundraisers for people like famous musicians who’d gotten sick in old age and had like no support me more,” says singer/songwriter John Perry Barlow. “ Intellectual property kind of like a lot of things in our society it you can think of it as something that only benefits elites but actually it was fought for by unions trying to support people who are not elites at all,” he says. “To have it lost by people who thought they were doing the right thing is just one of the great tragedies of our era,” he adds.

Record companies and the Broadcast publishing official statistics are under increased pressure to keep up the illusion that the music Industry is recovering by manipulating whatever dials can be turned by law or fiat. It has given reign give to an interim “gimmick economy” but in the long term, this way of using network technology is not even good for the rich and most powerful players because their ultimate source of wealth can only be a growing economy. An economy where we sell each other PDF’s or MP3’s is no more viable that the debt based on we have now.

The ideal mechanism would reward creativity, and still be tough enough to withstand thermodynamics which will surely appear. So long as public goods make up a minority of a market economy, taxes on non-public goods can be used to pay for the exception where price and value gap are large.

TECHNOLOGY

I think where people go wrong in imagining post-capitalist economies is starting with values. The stacking order is technology → economics → values. You need to start with alternative technological principles. Example: design with degradation/aging as a feature not bug.

Venkatesh Rao

The average Sci-Fi writer of the 50s, 60s and 70s would be very, very disappointed with the world of 2018. Technology is not pure/impure but subjected to ape psychology People outside tech truly do not understand the insane & stupid arrogance that dudes develop when you give them magic computer powers, tell them to use those powers instead of thinking, pay them a lot of money, and then give them a space where they can suck each other’s dicks all day. Technology is someone’s opinion in material form, sometimes it’s tantamount to being trapped in someone else’s head. What if tech was designed to solve last century’s problems? Why are we so ineffective tackling the 21st? Maybe we are not prepared to make changes that go beyond our current level of mental complexity. Unfortunately the medium has ended up amplifying lack of flexibility, along with self-absorption.

Biggest “tech” breakthroughs in recent years have been nothing more than clever hacks to get around onerous regulation, he writes. Tech exaggerates economic system tendencies toward extraction, growth for growth’s sake, he says. “World building is a thing” in a digital world, he adds. It’s time for a new era of techlash, and a new generation of tech entrepreneurs, he argues. “Art requires the flexibility to loosen one’s identity in order to feel the pleasure of merging with the artist,” he says, in an emotional and physical connection.

Much of internet was a means to access inner space with different destinations being different possible versions of future you. The new stack is so successful that it optimizes its environment instead of changing in order to adapt to the environment. Cheap networking facilitates exaggerated and rapid network effects. Silicon Valley, which once seemed a portal to unlimited potential, now induces claustrophobia as so many distinct companies with different competencies and cultures must compete for the same global pool of so-called advertisers. It might eventually become an ouroboros, a snake eating its own tail.

This access to inner spaces was supposed to make up for our lack of experience in peer relationships which was preventing some the development of the common pathway through which people learn about decision-making skills and the capacity to maintain a relationship.
However, when your inner space is opened to commercial activity, it exaggerates this economic system tendencies toward extraction, growth for growth’s sake, and the removal of human agency and connection. Now the system amplifies for ruthlessness, and capital “becomes a person” through corporations and tech.

So much information is “free,” that there is nothing left to advertise on Google that attracts actual money. It may well mean either the state takes the means of production to sustain itself (i.e seizes say a bitumen plant to keep roads) or simple hollows out in time. It seems like subtracting value, an enormous amount of value, and stymied progress to seize control and extract wealth.

High unemployment and very high underemployment may well result in a non functioning state. This means building new models for the distribution of necessary rival goods. It is entirely legitimate to understand that people are still needed and valuable. The rich live behind gates, not just to protect themselves, but to pretend to not need anyone else. The ghosts of the losers haunt every acre of easy abundance.

It’s not as if everyone wanted to be closer to all of humanity when cities first formed. Something was lost with the advent of the polis, and we still dream of getting it back. The greatest beneficiaries of civilization use all their power to create a temporary illusion of freedom from politics. In every case, abundance without politics was an illusion that could only be sustained in temporary bubbles, supported by armies. It was a bubble supported by the power of the rich, and it’s time to get rid of it, he argues. The quote could be interpreted as a daydream that better technology will free us to some degree from having to deal with one another.

For better or worse, when the time comes the future will be shaped by the separation of church and state for our times. Our new time lords display difficulty understanding the on-the-books value of culture.Ric Amurrio

www.bravojohnson.com