Monday, May 14, 2012

Nihilism: From Surreality to Virtual Reality

This essay was written in 1995 and included in the original manuscript of The Fall of New York.
By Der Kosmonaut
“Our period is the period of reportage than the period of the work of art.” -Albert Camus

“Change is constant.” -La Sashika

Nostalgia has its purpose. The idea of what was with the fondness for what was. The sense of returning and capturing elements of the past. It is commonly said that the more things change the more they remain the same. This is correct and incorrect. It is true that there are essential elements of human life that remain at base withstanding the charges of evolution. However, with evolution of contemporary ages transform, create and discard superstitions, customs and philosophies of the human species.

There is a comfortable tendency to lament the present for the joys and sorrows of the past. When the decade of the 1990s established itself, we began to see the playback of all the details of the previous epoch. While we looked forward we saw the beginning of the end. It is, to be honest, an alarming sign. So alarming in fact that some view the future with cynicism, which is one of two trends of perception towards the future. The other equally alarming feature is opportunistic optimism. The former is conservatively negative. The latter is progressively negative.

With the human species having come full circle, the mirror apparatus has been set. The opposite negation of all things known and unknown. One person’s aspirations and dreams is another’s despair and nightmare. This great schism has existed during the entirety of the last epoch. The time has come for reconciliation and reunion. This must come in the form of communication. It is tricky because we now reach the depths of uncharted charted regions. The question that remains is this: What type of communication? Moreover, in what form or language?

The advent of the 20th Century was greeted with widespread enthusiasm. Regardless of the spectrum of philosophy one engaged, including opposing ones, there was much hope for and of the future. With the promise of industrial technology along the premise of “The Enlightenment”, humans projected that the 20th Century would find the highest state of humanity. Some predicted the fall of the established order would lead to the “City of Man”. Others opposed this and believed that the forces of the status quo would properly lead to the “City of man”.

Twenty-something years into the 20th century disillusionment manifested as the promising City of Man” turned into the metropolis. This was where the transformation from reality to surrealism occurred. Today humans have nostalgia for virtue. Created from the ancient Greeks and put to rest by “Enlightened Men”, brings forth the concept of virtual reality.

The promise of the “City of Man” fulfilled many of its details. Humanity was brought together and unified, yet the differences between people psychologically was vast and distant. The surrealism of living with millions brought about juxtaposition of existence. On one hand the world was united and on other it created millions to be torn apart to destruction. For the first time space became a tangible subject.

The conquest over nature created a new set of problems. Humanity had been united yet antagonisms still persisted. This time on a new scale. Laws on human conduct were needed to reduce such conflicts. Communal space became elusive as personal space became more and more non-existent.

A new religion was born to address these issues. The religion was physics. Its ideology was relativity. Relativity was introduced to cushion personal antagonisms. In the unity of humanity, personal conflicts spilled into political conflicts, which sparked national conflicts that set flame to World War and consequently Cold War. This abolished the notion of the absolute. Individual ambition was encouraged. Unfortunately, in order the to keep the unity of relative humanity, it’s contradiction was born: Universality. This dilemma was not recognised. If existence is relative, how then does it justify the equation E=MC2? Once again to solve a contradiction another is created. This was why the 20th Century’s signature was nihilism.

The Century of Nihilism. Indeed, it was the era of the superhuman. The atomic age cracked a secret of the universe. The sound barrier was broken. In essence, planet Earth was conquered.
By the middle of the century, a new phenomenon overtook western civilisation: Consumerism. According to its economic and political proponents: Freedom=Choice of Consumption. This was ostensibly opposed by Communism in the East. It’s ideological equation was: Production Control=Freedom.
The former flourished. Dealing with multiples of statistics, humanity itself became the prime commodity. Freedom meant having producers give limited choices for humanity. Coke or Pepsi. GM or Ford. Firestone or Goodyear. Exxon or Texaco. New York Yankees or New York Mets.

Currently at the beginning of a new epoch, the West which dominates the globe has faced another dilemma. As a quartet of Englishmen once asked: “What happens when the intoxication of success has evaporated?” Simple. Eliminate choice by consolidation, thereby destroying the freedom of consumption to monopolised existence. There is one last choice one can take. One is better than nothing at all. Use monopolised products and live a monopolised lifestyle. If not, one can exclude themselves to die. No one really cares but that is your choice.

At last the final unity of humanity. Oneness and wholesomeness. One telecommunication. One media. One food source. One government. One world. One people. Equality? Yes, of course. In all there is one. Uneven? Yes. Fair? Who needs to speculate on such trivial information when OJ Simpson and Princess Die are much more important. What we have is one language: Double-Speak.
Double Speak is when nothing has any meaning other than itself.

What will the future hold if we continue with this trend? It appears not to be very bright nor progressive. The future is up to as individuals with our independent minds. There are other choices. The motto for the State of New Hampshire is “Live Free or Die”. This was not meant out of meaningless sentimentality. Nor was it meant to be used as a pop cliche based on some abstract notion. To use advertising slogans: THE REAL THING. BRAND NEW! IMPROVED! FRESH!

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