Permanent Present < Back

24.09.18 | In our wonderful technological now, our permanent present, the rich ever-moment which outruns the past and the future in both directions, the dream of possibility lives and lives again without dying. We live in omni-directional, anti-directional times. No up, down, left, right, back or forward. Time as negation of time. Why die when you can live forever?

Our efforts have lain in expressing the heart, but with a clear head. In the battle between head and heart (as between science and art), the head reasoned that with the correct mathematical application, a state of being could be brought about to allow the heart to live forever. Once the heart lived forever, it was reasoned, human nature could triumph above all things, and so art could live forever. But art must live in a place of dying. Eternal life negates art, by precluding it. There is no longer a need to dream or soliloquise because the lament is only for the fading, the diminishing, the sadness of life’s end. When life stops ending, so does sadness, but culture goes with it. We make it go away.

This is our crossroads. Science has built places where culture can live forever, permanently preserved and accessible, free to all. But those places make culture more and more meaningless. There is no need to add any more cultural content to that archive. Infinite culture is culture at a complete stop.

Must the archive be destroyed? An impossible question, but one that must be asked. We need to ask who the permanent archive serves. It was built by technicians, engineers, capitalists, technocrats. The only thing they asked in return was a complete picture of your daily habits, choices, tastes, social circle, belief system and ideology: to know you intimately and utterly, the better to serve your lifestyle and consumer needs. A small price to pay, you reasoned, without being given the opportunity to think it over in any way. By the time you had a chance to consider, it was too late - access to the culture seemed of vital importance to your every moment, and you weren’t particularly concerned what they knew about you. In fact, the more the knew about you, it seemed, the more they could provide you exactly what you wanted. It was a thoroughly symbiotic set-up.

Omni-culture is mono-culture. The strains of automated ambience wash the background into the foreground and it is there that we live. No longer is there any discord. The great acts of rebellion live on in tinted aspic, permanently neutered. There’s an internet connection, there’s a Spotify account, now form a band. Your own personal rebellion is apparently incarnate. It confers the illusion of change upon you. Toss that guitar strap across your shoulder, wrap your uncertain fingers around its neck: you can reach for the same change that exists simultaneously along every fretboard in the world. You are being permanently listened to, but remain utterly unheard. The great victory of technocracy was not in the repression of change, in ruthlessly putting it down with violent counter-revolution. The need for such counter-revolution was annulled. Its victory was to make your revolution the same cause as theirs: the revolution of the self, the privatised dream to be heard, to put down the rebellion in your own heart and conform. The privatised heart walks in step with the corporation: its revolution flows constantly, endlessly, uselessly, into the archive, where it will will never die, and never live.

24th September 2018 - written as a monologue for the 'Stopify' project.