Straight outta the cave

He had done the reading. He understood it as well as anyone could be expected to understand it under the circumstances. Better, probably, given the very same circumstances. Thus, empowered by the confidence that comes from being well-prepared, he sprung into action and wrote the Plato essay of his life

It took him a while, but he did it

Proud, he turned it in

A while later, the response came. It came in the form of the letter F, and being sent straight to the headmaster’s office, right there and then. Despite the philosophical ethos laid out by Socrates, there was absolutely no room for argument

Slightly later, in the headmaster’s office, a revised response came. It came in the form of the letter A, and a hearty laugh on the part of his bespectacled reader. “Philosophical fan fiction indeed, my boy. You’re going to go far if you keep this up. Carry on”

Liking, commenting and subscribing – the next step

At some point in time, the stream had been about something. This much was evidenced in the paraphernalia – it made inexplicable references to eternal things, more often than not seemingly by virtue of once having been put there and then unceremoniously forgotten. The stream itself though, as it now stood, was an endless, self-referencing series of interactions between streamer and audience, where the subject matter seemed to be nothing but the stream itself. As such, there were no new viewers or long time firsters – indeed, either you were in it with evident alacrity or not at all. There were no entry points, possibly also no exit points. The rare accounts given by those who had managed to leave were disjointed and fragmented at best, common grammar seeming to be one of the first victims of the neverending, self-fulfilling stream of shared consciousness. In the absence of accessible data, it was thought best to treat it as a black box, whose internal mechanisms remain unknown, but whose effects are obvious for everyone to behold

A question of style

I lack all style whatsoever. I make Feyerabend look like the paradigm of systematized thinking. I make Wittgenstein look long-winded. I make Hegel look straightforward and undialectic. I make Nietzsche appear like the man to ask for common sense advice. My entry into the discourse firmly placed Foucault in the American pragmatic tradition. I spoke a sentence, and Glaucon disagreed. Socrates asked me a question, then changed his mind. I walked into a room, and Guy Debord took up drag racing. I performed on stage, and both Judith Butler and Erving Goffmann became traditionalists. When I spoke to Zizek, he did not mention Kung Fu Panda even once. Kafka once considered making me the protagonist of one of his stories, but found me too vague and undefined. Robert Musil took up statistical analysis. Pynchon called me the Kenosha Kid. According to Rowling, I was heterosexual all along

But, you know. I try best I can

An incomplete list of the different kinds of apocalypses there are

Apocalypse: a revelation regarding an impending catastrophic event, often heavily implicating the end of the world as we know it; the term is sometimes also used to connote these events

Anticipatory apocalypses: the end is nigh! Rejoice!

Antagonistic apocalypses: the end is nigh, and we shall fight it tooth and nail until it has been overcome and a new, better tomorrow (where everything returns to normal) can be secured

Resigned apocalypses: the end is nigh, and there isn’t really anything we can do about it

Designed apocalypses: the end is nigh, within budget and proceeding according to schedule

Selectively acknowledged apocalypses: it only becomes apocalyptic when it happens to affluent people

Understated apocalypses: the world ended in 1879, and no one really noticed

Zombie apocalypses: this might very well be the first time any of these people acknowledged your existence

Nuclear apocalypses: we built ever bigger bombs, and then used them. In retrospect, this might not have been the wisest, most virtuous course of action to have chosen

Postapocalypses: it happened, and we somehow remained

Postapocalyptic zoology: ordinary animals have mutated into unusually large and aggressive versions of themselves. It is unclear how the food chains of these massive animals are structured or maintained

Postapocalyptic warfare: war. War never changes

The aesthetic sensibilities of preapocalyptic postapocalyptic modern culture: its self-alienation has reached such a degree that it can experience its own destruction as an aesthetic pleasure of the first order

Post-Benjaminian aesthetic sensibilities of preapocalyptic postapocalyptic modern culture: we got self-annihilations we ain’t even got names for yet

A lot to think about

He was, to put it politely, in a hurry. Not to worry, though, he was also very close to where he was going. All he needed to do was to find a parking spot, and then he’d be all set. There should be one somewhere around – aha, there’s one!

In fact, there was a whole row of them. An entire sidewalk’s worth. A worrying plethora in this sea of scarcity. Something had to be up. But what?

Then he saw them. The signs. They explained in extensive detail when parking was allowed, and when the full force of the municipal government would come crashing down upon those who broke its sacred commandments. Better pay attention, lest one makes a mistake

He began to read

After reaching the fifth sign – parking was allowed on even-numbered dates, but only if they were not a Sunday, but only during the summer months of the year (weeks 23-25 excluded), unless a special occasion dictated otherwise, with reservation for local variations – he gave up and moved on. Surely, somewhere, there had to be a parking spot that was not also a logic puzzle

They came, they saw, they conspired

Some time ago, we found out that the rumors of a complex, multi-layered, long-term global conspiracy to take over the world were in fact true. They had been at it for centuries, ever so slowly inserting themselves into various centers of power, some obsolete, some emerging, some so boring you wouldn’t even think of them as such. In short, they were all over the place, and they endeavored to make it theirs. If rumors and analytical indicators were anything to go by, they were pretty efficient at it.

We did what any rational municipal planning body would have done. We hired them to solve our complex, multi-layered, long-term local problems. There were necessary construction projects that had stalled since time immemorial, structural issues which required some serious out of the box thinking to solve or bypass, and on the whole a vast range of problems which we simply could not solve left to our own devices. While the solutions they proposed sometimes made little short-term sense, they overall tended to make such retroactive sense that having done otherwise seems nonsensical or ideological to an extreme degree.

To be sure, the risk of them inserting their own machinations into our everyday lives was an ever present constant. But listen. They solved traffic. They solved segregation. They solved homelessness. It would be something of a stretch to say that they solved ecology, but things used to be much, much worse in that regard. Everything is better now. Ever the very air is cleaner, somehow.

If this somehow furthers their plans for global domination – we’ll take it. We willingly understand and accept these new terms and conditions.

Digital white noise

The terms of service were very clear. The website (“WEBSITE”) was free to use by anyone, on condition that they posted a link to it every now and again. Not too often, but not too infrequently either. There was a balance to these things, and the trick was to time the mandatory posts just right

As predicted, this generated a lot of buzz around and about the site, especially as the big influencers got to posting. So much buzz, in fact, that other sites caught on and implemented their own version of this condition, so as to cash in on the increased attention. The attention economy is a thing, after all

Soon, just about every website had included this clause somewhere. This, predictably lead to a lot of people posting links with very low enthusiasm very often. For a while, there seemed to be nothing other than these links dominating the timelines across several social media, a veritable flood of spam for things everyone was already aware of or actively using. A very unpleasant situation indeed

Then, through some unspecified magic of spontaneous social organization, it was decided that the 13th and 27th of each month would be Link Posting Day, where everyone algorithmically posted everything they were obliged to post. At a certain predetermined time, the links flooded every timeline there ever was, and then everything continued as if nothing had happened. A big ol’ reset button of socially mediated white noise

Just as intended

Prophetic visions of the coming year

It will take a while to get used to this new, unfamiliar number on calendars and stationeries

You will be, ever so imperceptibly, older

Your friends have all started to have kids, and keeping track of them all is an exercise in forensic demography

More and more often, your attempts to communicate with youngsters run into the roadblock of not knowing their mediated frames of reference

Equally as often, your attempts to reference contemporary popular culture results in blank stares and discreet Wikipedia inquiries

The recent year 2009 happened ten years ago

Your list of things to do never actually gets any shorter; things are just removed from the top and added at the bottom

Failures accumulate while successes fade away

Those books will never get read. For most of them, that’s okay

Everything is embedded within layers and layers of history. Some of these layers are yours

No matter how much you did, you could have done more. Ironically, the key to getting things done is to let this thought go

Productivity is a myth that obfuscates the amount of energy we actually expend doing things

Even expensive pants tear

You are not missing out

No one actually remembers what it meant to party in 1999, so you are free to make up your own nostalgic throwbacks

We are, ever so gradually, becoming the Wise Ancients

2019 will be a glorious year to create your own ancient rituals

Hug every cat

Just checking

Someone told him to check his privilege

So he did

His first discovery was that he was not alone in the project of checking his privilege. In fact, statisticians and social scientists alike made rough estimates as to the geometry of the outer areas of said privilege, employing ever more sophisticated methodologies in their efforts. They said it was both fractal and exponential, getting bigger in different ways depending on the measures used to measure it. Overall, perplexity reigned; phrases like “somehow both bounded and infinite” were tossed around with frightening regularity

Moving from the periphery to the center, he quickly discovered it to be an intricately tangled web of services, targeted incentives and hidden opportunities just waiting for him to use them. Any one aspect would take weeks to understand fully, and the prospect of understanding it all in its entirety seemed beyond the scope of the limitations imposed by human longevity (the boost provided by free healthcare notwithstanding). Nevertheless, free university courses were available for the express purpose of enhancing public awareness of both parts and whole. The most difficult part of it all seemed to be knowing if and where to start

A profound sense of vertigo overtook him. If this was what it was like to be a regular nobody under socialism, imagine what it’d be like to be a slightly richer nobody under socialism

Attention deficit

This was clearly a dream. Everything was too ordered and structured to be otherwise. To be sure, it was all disjointed pieces juxtaposed in parallel with no clear reasons for anything being where it was, but every piece was also clearly delineated from other pieces in such a way that there could be no confusion as to which was which. Such precisely organized chaos could only be the product of a dreamscape; any real agent organizing these things would attempt to impose some sort of principle or another into what went where, rather than this haphazard everything everywhere all at once kind of hot mess

Somewhere in the back of his mind, a nagging suspicion made him think that this might be one of those rare moments in his life where paying attention to what was going on might be a priority

Attention was duly paid

It turned out that each and every one of these strangely underorganized pieces were reconstructions of conversations that took place after he had left the scene. Some were about him specifically, some about other things. Some conversations painted him in a flattering light, others not. Some surprised him, others came crashing down on him the way only a confirmed suspicion could crash and down

At length, the dream ended. Immobilized by insight, he stayed put in bed the rest of the day, to sort out what even had happened and how to deal

Attention was duly paid