You’re basically one of the leading thinkers of what we might call the school of thought that’s known as accelerationism. Accelerationism is something like the view that contemporary history is changing at an exponential rate, technologically and economically, and that this rate of change confounds nearly all of our traditional concepts for thinking about society and economics and politics. If someone on the street walked up to you and asked you “What is this whole accelerationism thing?” is there a kind of key essence or upshot that you would add to what I just said?
There is a famous scene in the movie Alien where engineer Brett is chasing a cat in the space ship’s engine room and unexpectedly runs into an alien. So do the spectators, who see an adult alien for the first time—even a bit sooner than the character since the creature descends from the ceiling behind Brett’s back while he is staring into the camera and courting Jones, the cat. I believe our attitude towards capital to be quite similar—we are Brett the moment before he turns around, we sense something unbearably, monstrously alien behind our back, yet we still behave as if we were only chasing a cat. The alien capital in the title stands for alienness, for the eighth passenger aboard a spaceship with seven humans. The capitalist economy we are more familiar with also encompasses classes, entrepreneurs and employees, banks and finances etc. and something else, something alien.
There is a blurry edge in all detective work that, as Borges too competently demonstrates, skirts a zig-zag threshold between apophenia and the truly canny connection of events that only appear, superficially, to be disconnected. In the name of a method that is closer to invocation than criticism, a reckless detective might refrain from determining exactly where an act of decryption lies on the ugly terrain of legitimacy and, proffering sanity as the stake, live up to the problem as it stands.
Towards the end of his book on Henri Bergson, Deleuze mined from the philosopher’s work a spectral prefiguration of the people-to-come: the faint traces of an emergent and enigmatic open society, a “society of creators” and ‘privileged’ souls connected together by an imperceptible circuitry. Standing atop a grand, abstract summit, the open society derives its name not only from its differentiation to the closed society, but through that which it opens onto. The open society moves in the direction of what Bergson had called the élan vital, the impulse or force that compels self-organization in matter and morphogenesis through time. Such a movement is an affair of life itself, the sifting apart of the organic from the inorganic, organization from base matter. By ascending up a cosmological hierarchy in order to enter into unending engagement with this force, the mark of the open society is life at its most creative.
The Millennium is ten years out, but for Baudrillard it might as well have already happened. The eclipsing of the communists’ historical dream by globalized flows of floating capital and information ushered in a cold, glacial stasis: the enveloping of any sense of forward momentum by the simulation of what had once been real events. As ubiquitous media begins to seep down to every crack and crevice and the whirlwind fades into the sensation of an odd vertigo, the only question Baudrillard finds himself capable of asking is this: “What do we do now that the orgy is over?”
Early in November 2017, fisher Karissa Lindstrand dredged up a lobster off the coast of New Brunswick, Canada. The crustacean had a Pepsi logo prominently tattooed onto its propodus, or claw. Precisely how this logo came to be there remains a mystery: when the event made the news, marine biologists instantly disagreed as to the provenance and occasion of the marking. The mechanisms of imprinting are largely irrelevant, for we instead read this event in a deeper, properly world-historical light: this decapod pincer represents a mere moment in a far vaster process, one spiralling outwards in both time and space… The following (an essay split into 7 sequential parts) is, in many ways, an attempt to fill in this story, as it provides context to the unnerving singularity of recent events such as a sigil-branded lobster from the deep.