networks as ritual liposuction


The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the invention of the Internet in 1990 dually mark a very specific moment—that is, the point at which the freedom to internalize and embody diverse moral and political ideologies was replaced by the freedom to externalize them in the abstraction of the global network. Put more simply: the liberal freedom to enact was exported as the neoliberal freedom to connect.



But the Internet doesn't really connect or free people at all. Rather, it frees information and qualities from the people who constitute them, allowing them to circulate, aggregate, and reassemble dynamically among global protocols. In other words: difference is exported as data, and data sees no difference.


In computer programming, a global variable is a variable with global scope, meaning that it is visible (hence accessible) throughout the program, unless shadowed. The set of all global variables is known as the global environment or global state.


The network is an affective architecture peripheral to that of "online space." It is actually not a space at all, but an abstract logic against distinctive walls, against autonomous skins, against the opaque and the immovable. It thrives among modularity, striving to re-purpose the world as connective parts, exportable bits, extensible bodies, borderless territories for bloated currencies: a global state (kind of).



It's no longer a question of removing the subject from the traditional exterior bonds, as the liberal hypothesis had intended, but of reconstructing the social bonds by depriving the subject of all substance. Each person was to become a fleshless envelope, the best possible conductor of social communication, the locus of an infinite feedback loop which is made to have no nodes. The cyberneticization process thus completes the "process of civilization," to where bodies and their emotions are abstracted within the system of symbols.



Contrary to many current polemics surrounding "network culture," the problem is not that our lives have become hyper-mediated; it is that these medias which saturate many of our lives have become too responsive to each other while becoming less and less responsive to our public engagement. In the globally economized language of the network, dollars speak to servers, porn .gifs speak to military Twitter bots, and Instagram narcos mexicanos speak to Google analytics—but none of them are listening to us. Fractals vacuum mutual solidarities, shit them out as optimized, easy-to-read fictions.


We shall not ratify the rise of the obscure and the fall of the transparent. But do not decry the reverse either. Simply withdraw from the decision to ask the question. Instead ask: what is this eternity? What is this black box—this black bloc—that fills the world with husks and hulls and camouflage and crime? Is it our enemy, or are we on the side of it? Is this just a new kind of nihilism? Not at all, it is the purest form of love.
–Alexander Galloway


Is it true that we have no demands?


Can we—the fleshless envelopes,
straddled with debt and salted with millennial shaming—
offer civil war to our networks

the way we offer flowers to our mothers in May?