R.U. Sirius on Mon, 12 Oct 1998 19:02:01 +0200 (MET DST)

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<nettime> The TechnoSurrealist Manifesto

The TechnoSurrealist Manifesto
by R.U. Sirius

              John Giorno

"Your idea is crazy, but it isn't crazy enough to be true."
	Neils Bohr

Technoculture, or cyberculture as it is called in the vulgate, has been
through four ideational stages. The purpose and intention of this document
is to announce the fifth. These ideational stages are: 

1) Pure Nerdism 1976-1988
2) Technoanarchy (the MONDO 2000 epoch) 1989-1992
3) Technolibertarianism (the Wired epoch) 1993- March 12, 1998
4) Technorealism March 12 - March 19, 1998
5) TechnoSurrealism March 20, 1998 - Dec 21, 2012

1) Pure Nerdism (1976-1988)

Technoculture was truly a small subculture in these early days. Nerds had
some shared beliefs and ethics, like the much maligned "Information wants to
be free."  Ironically, they didn't particularly care about sharing them.
They were not interested in getting terribly involved with politics (or
girls). They were too busy hacking to pontificate. They weren't into hype.

Then I came along

2) Technoanarchy: the MONDO 2000 epoch (1989-1992)

In this glorious epoch, my friends and I induced confused, stoned youths in
the thousands (well, maybe hundreds) to wander soul-naked and bloody
starkers raving mad into the badlands of cyberspace. It was a time of great
exuberance and imagination as we apprehended and celebrated the media
anarchy implicit in the vastness and chaos of the digital terrain.  And it
was a time of great gibberish when fractal geometry and chaos theory could
be wielded to induce people to write for five cents per word. Nobody
questioned the wisdom of the technoanarchist avant-garde.

After all, we were all on smart pills.

3) Technolibertarianism: the Wired epoch (1993 - March 12, 1998)

And then, suddenly, any Republican post-industrialist corporate boomer in
possession of more imagination than the average accountant was presented
before the just-now-forming digital masses as a wild anti-government
visionary.  What cable TV subscriber could resist the curious pull of such
counterintuitive statements as "VIACOM DOESN'T SUCK"?  Who could fail to be
fascinated by a libertarian magazine campaigning against state control and
excesses in copyright, while employing an expensive, pitbull legal team to
enact a campaign in defense of its trademark that threatened to colonize the
entire English language?  And who could resist cyberNewt Gingrich and the
Republican revolution as they mustered whatever political power they could;
from corporate America's over-taxed tills, from her heroic anti-drug
warriors, from her poor huddled underfunded defense establishment, in order
to fight the good fight against the black teenage mothers who so
ruthlessly dominated this great (if soon to be obsolete) nation state?

4) Technorealism (March 12-19, 1998)

It had become apparent that, after two consecutive epochs wired on
hyperbolic technobabble, the intelligencia, needed to crash. So a small
group of intellectuals bent on truth and a book contract had a brilliant...
er... um... at least sobering idea: What if we were to continue the trend,
and make each digital epoch more dreary than the last? What if we were to
lay claim to digital reality itself, defining it in language so stilted,
with ideas so mind-numbingly simplistic and obvious, so soporific that a
dazed cyberpopulis, already rendered doofus from data shock, might just sign
on? And in the course of cyberevents, both great and small, we may
sufficiently impress Random House or perhaps St. Martin's Press?

The TechnoSurrealist Manifesto:

"And ever since I have had a great desire to show forbearance to scientific
musing, however unbecoming, in the final analysis, from every point of view.
Radio?  Fine. Syphilis?  If you like. Photography? I don't see any reason
why not. The cinema? Three cheers for darkened years. War? Gave us a good
laugh. The telephone? Hello. Youth? Charming white hair. Try to make me say
thank you:  Thank you. Thank you."
		Andre Breton, The Surrealist Manifesto

Consensus reality is dead! Watch your overcoat.

Forget Technorealism:

Forget Technorealism.  Realism without imagination is mere reductionism.
Realism is not a realistic response to accelerating change.  As we
approach the apotheosis of the interpenetration of human lives and media,
and anarchic democratic access to the means of communication, we sense the
eruption of levels of mediated cognitive chaos that is beyond our
abilities to comprehend, predict, or define. And while tenured academics
might dream of slowing this digital demon down that it might be parsed in
a spirit of Amish-like rectitude, there is no solid ground upon which to
examine the corpus of current techno-sociopolitical reality. The whole
notion of a shared consensus, some kind of social center, is decaying at a
fever clip and youths raised on the net and the web won't even recognize
the cultural and political assumptions that are still parroted today,
albeit with less and less conviction
Attempts to reverse undesirable trends of real importance, like the
increasing gulf between the rich and the poor, or the fact that a nation
of pod people will tolerate corporate testing of bodily fluids without
screaming bloody revolution, are not serviced by a tepid set of
rationalist principles aimed at unseating a small, perceived
techno-utopian elite whose influence is limited and waning anyway. Pay
attention to the rabble, on the streets or on the web. Then you'll
understand that the primary political polarity of our age isn't
technolibertarians vs. neo-Luddites, it's between those who believe in
everything (gray aliens, The Gnomes of Zurich and every conspiracy theory
that slithers across the net, ad infinitum) and those who believe in
nothing (unless you can tie it in to a snide quip about The Brady Bunch or
Mork and Mindy). And both sides are, implicitly, supporters of
TECHNOSURREALISM. Whether they know it or not. 

The Problem of Money:

Digital communication is a dissipative, boundary-disrupting tool. I won't
bore you repeating the old arguments about how the net - and mediated
communications culture itself - puts intellectual property, the nation
state, the money system, even the well-defined self, into crisis.  You can
read the back issues of Mondo 2000 and Wired yourselves. It should be enough
to simply remind people that just because a situational description has
grown tiresome through repetition, or has been adapted by people whose
political leanings you don't particularly like, that doesn't make it untrue.
And I apologize to all of the writers who, like myself, are struggling
within the economics of digital capitalism, but you are going to have to
struggle for an end to society being organized around economics, not for
greater copyright protection!  (When photographers for 24 Hours in
Cyberspace took pictures of the Zapatistas, Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos
thought the pictures should belong to the photographer's subject.).  You
can't count beans in a flood, and you shouldn't want to, all right?

Throughout the 20th century, starting with the Dada/Surrealists,
individuals who were too alive and imaginative to stomach horseshit have
argued for an end to wage slavery, This was premature in the 1930's. In
the digital age, it's absolutely necessary.  The solid, secure,
agricultural/industrial era, production-oriented forms of labor have been
displaced by automation and dissipated by the global work force.  There
has never before been a time in history where a majority of people have
been forced to hustle so pointlessly, toiling the fields of hype,
poisoning the real and conceptual environment with utterly bogus product,
desperately servicing invented needs, building massive unnecessary
arsenals, clearcutting the forests, and always demanding that their
self-interests, however obsolete, be protected, instead of demanding the
transformation of a social system that will make them do anything for
money, even ask Big Brother to reach into the privacy of individual homes
to make sure nobody is copying anything for free, which is the only way to
carry traditions of intellectual property into the high tech world. I'll
say it once more, straight out: The whole situation around information as
property isn't resolvable. We need a social system that doesn't require
artists and software writers (or anybody) to make money. 

Is anybody with me?

Of course you are.

Information Wants to be Free and so do I
"You must have chaos in your soul to give birth to a dancing star."
		- Nietzsche

This is the decade of the tight asshole.  Intellectuals who you presumed
to be at least 50% sane will suddenly start justifying the de facto
censorship of a film based on a book by Nabokov.  Seems that every time
you turn around, someone else is buying or selling a huge bale of
horseshit in the name of social responsibility. A stifling, smug centrism
trickles down like day-old piss, from that horndog in the White House to
the blockhead in each of us. The next person who bores me gets a Ketamine
dart between the eyes. I've done all I can with language. The age of
technosurrealism has already exceeded the Age of Reason and now it is
over, too. Go home to your husbands, wives and children. Reality is a
stranger to us all. 

Reprinted by permission of DisInformation at http://www.disinfo.com

R.U. Sirius is US Presidential Candidate for The Revolution at

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