Tagged critique

The Inapplicable Ballardianism Of Simon Sellars

RND/ To consider a poetic critique / remix of sections from obsolete, eye-rollingly turgid auto-fictive pseudo-biography “Applied Ballardianism: Memoir from a Parallel Universe” by Simon Sellars.

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Simon Sellars Applied Balalrdianism: Book Cover Remix

The characters are finding.. that the so-called Real World isn’t convincing anymore.
– J.G Ballard interview, BBC Profile 2003

// entertaining and informative only in parts

i. some intriguing research idea
for precisely how not to analyse or approach ballardianism
this project never concludes and instead
becomes part of highly doubtful content
dead body of irrelevant facts not previously in public domains
painfully sketchy shoehorning of ballardian narrative similitude at every opportunity
to find oneself claming b.s at end of many paragraphs
failed attempt to relay period of life by identifying massively
with various characters in his stories – with ballard himself
cosplaying with characters not normally taken up by cosplayers
yet many of events feel reinvented to align with ballardian scenarios
occurring at times in life nothing remotely ballardian was happening
standing around with faces like drained swimming pools

ironically this aligns with ballard’s own writing
mythologizing life into weird wild array of semi-fictitious autobiography
the representation of large sections of mundane conference papers
framed in unfortunate narratives that present these as minor works
of idiosyncratic academically challenged imposters
somehow undertaking intense ballardian activity
yet as phd student nothing could be more normal than for authors
to present such papers at various conferences
but aggressive responses to projected self-doubt feels quite sad
peppering of various cultural theorists – virilio baudrillard et al
feels at odds with private critiques of boring intellectuals

ii. yet why name drop such academic references if they’re unimportant
large sections consist of basic synopses of ballard’s novels and stories
which offer little interpretative insight
space alien sightings and underlying macho violence are worst aspects
along with vivid description of second life as though it’s real
supposedly violence and blurring of reality is meant to tie in with ballard’s writing
but it feels like punch-ups muggings running from bike gangs hitting people
are really just embarrassing non events
that would only happen to aggressive idiots /
consider such books ones nobody asked for
and yet they got even slightly less

// fleeing excesses

in which young cyberculture researchers set out
to systematically analyse
obsessively reiterated themes of obscure internet theorists
disorienting near futures now prophesized
fragmentary narratives/ disturbingly psychotropic as dark magus miles davis
where car crash prophets speed mutate
into surgeons of pathological virtualities

slick surfaces of contemporary reality throb and pulse
existential odysseys/ inextricably weaved lived virtual experience
as theoretical insights warp into startling autobiographical hyper fiction surveys
dissected worlds hooked up live into global technological delirium
hot bright worlds now unmistakably postmodern

// psychic wombat

to trace decline – bittersweet benefits of survival
exact moments located in theater of unwellness
high school dropouts pinball between dead end jobs
once bright students/ squandered ambition
fuses melting under excessive voltage
turn inwards but nothing holds stare of deep voids
sight of self lost within interminable fever dream

to awake inside anomalous worlds with something oddly familiar
cloned versions threatening erasure
no choice but to spark internal war mission – take out clones
in which to fight means exposure to interdimensional time
unable to distinguish between failed futures
wrong questions asked – unskilled in psychic combat
wrong doors open/ dark matter burns within

// artificial weapons

i. zenith of cyberculture as incandescent moment
embryonic internets go nova
wild untamed frontier zone occupied by hackers
digital somali pirates/ hot data surgeons for hire
cadres of romanticised undesirables shining forth
from glossy cyberphile magazines

stories emerge in terminally unhip lands
as tv personalities make fools of themselves
asking about data tubes live on air
struggling to pronounce at symbols
such fearless cybertroopers storm gilded gates of tomorrow
clueless rubes snowblind from self generated nonlinear pixel blizzards
nets hyped as radical human evolution

thundering cyberprophet consciousness uploads to mainframes
booster rocket bodies ditch as dead meat weight
cyber modification fads display contempt for physical limitations
swept up in augment fervor noses spontaneously pierce in three places
tongues split in two/ yet instead of ascension to enlightened state
each receives sinus infection / speech impediment lasting for weeks
californian cyber hippy culture gaggles peddle digital utopia snake oil
nets as new home of mind – dull rhetoric forged
from pink male privilege/ sure feels cold

ii. danger excitement diversity discontent bond
to pseudo nihilistic cyberpunk science fiction
communes transplant from virtual desert online
stark correctives to cyber utopianism needed
in cyberpunk virtual reality displaces new normal
alien loners log on via neural interface
minds conjoined – bodies lifeless slack
nervous systems soon collapse / minds warp – living death occurs

one slick worldview those with high social capital buy into easily
to consider cyberpunk as accurate summation of era
startling research exposes sickness of culture
in wake of cyber prophet based global news simulation
provocative reports release on information overload

where even staunchest adherents feel unnerved
sum total of available information doubling
in ever shorter amounts of time
data tsunami swamps uncontrollable mind stream
new overlapping technology flux
faxes mobile phones modems internet conferencing
exponential human cost of assimilating / processing material
information fatigue syndrome – atrophied attention spans

minds shut down – bodies deplete
symptoms include hyper aroused psychological condition
paralysis of analytical capacity – faux anxiety – lack of self doubt
increased capacity for bad decisions based on flawed conclusions
appointments made with doctor to complain about malaise
yet practitioners regard such patients with barely concealed contempt
ir condition shrouded in pseudo intellectual babble
recent media reports quoted in pathetic attempt
to make situation appear more or less significant
than torpor of degenerate data slackers sitting opposite

iii. such info fatigue syndrome somehow heroically avoidable consequence
of willingly service in ongoing digital war
sustained immersion within new cyber dawn
wraparound virtual reality technology
where so called cyber warriors speak of minds going
doctors rise wearily from hard wooden seats
slouch over to medicine cabinet – sets of golden blades on desk
alien scalpels laid out – such medical scenes nervous / paranoid

rising panic induced/ mystifying geometry alarms
designer weapons of advanced analytical dissection
conceptual cardboard boxes opened
high quality electronic consumer merchandise ideology sealed within
to return from such sessions with unmarked boxes of pills
instructions included/ details fail however to register distraction
attractive middle aged nurses stand nearby
to observe such medical interaction – feel stirring deep in loins
completely present in some recondite way
moods mauve in colour/ engraved with crude outlines of sick doves

// still dead world

i. in which pills generate monstrous side effects
after ingestion fail to remember thoughts had moments before
sometimes lose contact with seemingly critical childhood memories
or even names / ages/ swathes of brain wiped
such mindspace freefall accompanied
by chaotic spatial disorientation

walls fall away to inky voids
floors vanish into bottomless chasms
in precious moments between such apocalyptic hallucinations
manage to hold down part time job in warehouse on outskirts of town
wholesale distributor supplying underground urban architecture magazines
to nationwide newsagent chains
heat seal ballpoint pens into plastic blister packs
rear of building storeroom for remaindered stock

something weird to read scavenged during tea break
cache of soft architecture porn periodicals draws eyes to seductive covers
face flushed by lurid red filter sporting plastic horns
cameras wink back as multiple tongues extend from saucy grins
other attractions advertised by progressively smaller fonts
interview with some legendary gonzo sci fi public toilet writer
tantalizing heading screams ufo

vivid mishmash of faded hero with current fads
waiting viperous among back pages
content scan for essential field guide to coiled interview with future cult author
science fiction on elliptical orbit
far distant from planets asimov heinlein clarke
devour sci fi but never let it read in return – already too far underground
known only through blurbs tucked away in endpapers of less esoteric novels
simple souls keen on doc smiths lensmen series – sappiest of boys own space operas

yet what to make of works described by shell shocked
chill splinters of unreality – source of bleak new live / evil
clearly for crowds such coders not major draw
peripheral figure from youthful forays into science fiction
information tech mixes with bleeding edge cast of wannabes
heavy metal christian sloane rebels – nocturnal vampettes
yet now more punk than any – interview incendiary showcase for deadly ability
to pinpoint moment when technology strafes uncanny valley

ii. predicted forms social media assumes
as it reinvents itself twenty minutes into future
psychological fallout from heavy use included
deregulation of airwaves leads to deregulation of imagination
people now screen themselves – bad midnight cable access tv holo programs
television reframed as cyborg extension of cultural coders mind space
tv tube flagging piece of nervous tissue
ever bigger charges needed to get necessary eye kicks
themes of suburban breakdown define rnd
big strain to maintain fabric of absolute normality
requiring powerful repressive dark unseen biopsychic forces
perverse suburbs animate/ fascinate via existential stasis
dystopic interior world space where everyone acts violently sane

deviance factored directly out of architecture
bleached landscapes siphoned off from ever odder behavior
terms / conditions of suburbia – empty time/ no past or future
only enervation – eternal presents
where little changes but constant change
soul desert memories of fictional overlays
consumer futures always just out of reach
futures as deathly boring – psychic suburbanisation of planetary soul
radical counterpoint mutant strain identified – possible resistance node
tedium of suburbs forcing imagination into new arenas

deviant acts each morning
merely to make certain of freedom
nothing so dramatic as say torching local blumquist video store
or beating up men of business
although do just that in later works
kicking your boss does for now
accompanying interview monochrome photo portrait
enhances casual brutality of synthetic truths
large gritty photo/ grain scuffs surround pages
black shirt worn while gazing off camera
left eye framed with thumb forefinger
cheek pulled down to reveal wide opaque pupil
struck by visual cryptograms/ crack code

iii. what exactly x signals as never known
until years later when reading local newspaper
answers surfacing from random connections
announcing presence with alien electricity
unpredictable spark jags from tesla coil
exact same signal/ arcane intimation
fictional experiments aiming for identical results
to awaken by any means possible

complacent suburbanites stiff from dreamlike existence
insight not revealed until near future
when events take full course
in thrall to dark strange unseen forces just beyond reason
magazine interviews re read for now
open eye stares inadvertently setting wheels in motion
signal of overpowering broadcast feed
brain colonized airwave pirate
prime time television splices into pornographic immateriality

// end of shift

commence long walk home from warehouse – weather hot / dusty
deadly rays from high sun reflect off
vicious concrete expanses passing for public space
intense glares blot out all life in atomic flash colors
half expected shadows sear bleak pavement
unpeopled industrial areas power substations hiss
cavernous breaker yards
back street negotiation – infestation of dun colored brick factories
each small/ foreboding – iron bar windows
private dens rented out to high bidders

slaughtered chicken on road spattered with bloody innards
arranged inscrutable symbols
three discarded battered carriages on nature strip nearby
modern day mysteries ponder
lace suspended sneakers over suburban power lines
front door open/ fuses blown – power off
hallway pitch black darkness hemmed in
coordinates of contemporary madness
still suffering spatial hallucination from pills

eye probes/ minds beckon mirror world
thresholds crossed with senses reeling
breadcrumbs followed – risk it all/ kicked dogs
notorious novels read for days
consuming dangerous literature as liberating act
works so depraved/ author myth beyond psychiatric help

// technolust

i. in which crashes change lives torching everything before
reversed negativity – channeling i.t into something radical
sensuous narrator of seditious work
rough copy of flawed clone infiltrates group
of urban professionals bored with jobs
marriages bored with themselves
allegiance pledged to hoodlum scientist nurturing dark desires
promises to recalibrate android lives in nightmare marriage of sex / technology
master plan to induce global autogeddon – primitive uniting singularity
machines in terminal congress of loins / engine coolant

tune in to police radio as damaged crew vultures descend upon car accidents
stage own atmosphere of trauma perfume inhilation
scars of numerous accidents born – crash wounds entered
pleasuring yourself watching crash test dummies pulverize to oblivion
as they admit crash induced pain into flesh – hybrid lifeform burst cocoons
strange bodies indelibly altered – resultant scars conduits to newness
more intense sexuality crash logic accelerated
intimate reshaping of human form – no return insight revealed when lsd taken

drive across motorway systems defining ey world
as acid trip peaks hallucination becomes one with machine bones
arms form solid coupling with shift of steering column
vibrations from gears shoot down legs – spine lying in transmission tunnel
cyborg metaphors warning against outsourcing of bodily functions to technology
turned on nonetheless – cyber fetishists remain at heart

ii. despite injurious prior flirtation with body modification
obsessional disabilities clad in leg braces
physical frames reconfigured by willing participation in numerous crashes
unique contours of scarred hands proudly display
deformed knees radiating humid fetishistic charge
jagged prose isolated body parts placed in geometric conjunctions with leather
cool car seats – disability enhanced steering wheels
chromium trim of vehicle movements form cryptogram of prosthetics flesh metal
boundaries between human machines obliterated

naturally such wounds worshiped via hypnotic obsession
ineluctable moment when couples fulfill pulpy techno lust
leg irons stroked as if admiring new car finish
entering / irrigating crash borne thigh scar
such trashy gleaming portmanteau world reflects soul back
small intense following of few psychopathic amputees
send more porno photos to warp minds
attracted to images and strange media senses
once considered repugnant

desperate to break free of inexplicable stupor succumbing to crash spell
machinic curves beguile – merge with ongoing fantasy of middle aged nurse
shimmering chromium callipers offset by blinding uniform white
minds cleave mind in two to never recover
automated response to spiritual affliction sickness etc

// war signs

i. one night drives under influence of pills
hoping altered reality replicates lsd crash insights
some rapturous vision of technological union – crippling loss of self
mass produced pharmaceuticals useless
only artisanal synthesised high of narration marries with machine
pull over to slip road convinced mobility means doom
see self driving off overpass in moment of heightened panic
bursting into flames below – hallucinating phantom trucks
surging headlong forcing to swerve onto oncoming lane

signs scarred with index of trauma through shatterproof glass of windscreen
desperate to decode numerical mystery
why had stars aligned so catastrophically in 91
what would tally instill such heavy dread
blighting one of worlds largest exurban conglomerates
machine calibrated for vehicles to move rapidly across long distances
from young age forced to bathe in metallic glow
developing subliminal awareness of status symbols
hidden meanings embedded in car culture

children once lived in suburbs in foothills of misty ranges
area crosshatched by endless freeways perpetually crawling
heavy duty industrial road trains – military grade enforcement vehicles
juiced up high speed muscle cars
service roads scarred landscape lined with tire outlets truck mechanics

ii. car showroom stench of petrol
industrial perfume of rubber coated air
there pub wedged into intersection between two major freeways
isolated as remote pacific islands
beer flows like water yet no footpaths lead to pub
quickest way to die by car drunk at wheel
on surrounding roads no pedestrian refuge islands exist
nowhere for walkers gain respite
walking unheard of since nobody walks in outer suburbia
not in environment designed to wipe people from earth’s dusty face

staring at sign feel chill sense of cosmic entrapment
as if parking in remote slip road many years ago draws body closer to location
until finally inhabiting prediction
realization once again adrift in mental space
last straw for battered psyche
steeled self for return of terrifying hallucinations defeated
by medical error pulsing relentlessly through bloodstream
nonetheless knowing one must wait it out
to let horror wash over in whatever form i.t might take
no matter risk to sanity as to feel cleansed/ emerged whole on other side
yet passing signs continue to interrogate midnight highway oversoul

// impotent roadkill

i. growing up subjected to endless stream of public safety announcements
made by transport accident commission
horrific productions warned of nightmares on roads – scenes of carnage
ashamed to discover primal jolt thrilling to bone
staged cautionary accidents with machine gun editing speed – cranked action
hyperfluid camerawork all trademarks of mad max which fourteen years earlier
reinvented cinematic car crashes
films tortured anti hero max rockatansky
burnt out speed addicted cop in decaying pre apocalyptic society
hotted up cars sanction murderous impulses of dehumanised psychos behind wheel
seductive split second cyborg rhythm of high octane driving
real intent to manipulate viewer to climax with state sanctioned illicit thrills
no other conclusion triggered at point of impact

precise moment supposed to solemnly condemn terror of roads
to feel fullest revulsion at casual violence underpinning lives implicated
in total horror of road crash seducing with undeniable pleasures of speed
to embraces total aesthetic experience of film crash
they are two versions of reality separated by ideology
doubtless transport accident commission films designed to evoke
psyche mimicking stylistic tropes drawing upon cultural resonance
storied symbol of predilection for vehicular carnage placed within
shocking naturalistic context of crash sutures / dueling ideologies
embedded concept of inner space
alternative mindscape generated when characters react
against totalising systems of control so dream reality fused
each retaining its own distinctive quality

ii. yet in some way assuming role of its opposite
paradox framed in simplest terms – by undeniable logic
inner space engine of ambivalence powers crash
since for all novels radical sexuality side effects are queasy
disturbing revealing flipside of subversive dream logic
one particular sequence riven with existential dread
forced to plot uneasy childhood
with its normalized backdrop of violence
mapping onto strange new coordinates

// bludgeoned by billboards

i. television films of imaginary accidents
british equivalent of tacky ads bequeathing
vague sense of unease gruesome climax
of life being rehearsed years in advance
he even has premonition of how he’ll die
filmed unwittingly for televised psychodramas on some secret road
its location known only by filmmakers

one day he crashes into another car on motorway – admits fate
after being bombarded endlessly by road safety propaganda
almost reliving to find self in actual accident
although dimly aware rendezvous symptom
of inexorable logic drives this program of posthumanism
night understood only that sunlight had now become black
under watch of ominous sign slip road where he’d parked
mysterious roads upon which ballard would meet doom

marked for death simply by having viewed ads
thrilling guiltily to superbly crafted max aesthetic
attraction to technique absorbing into hyper simulated world
with no escape from vectors of speed or trauma

ii. for historians apocalyptic violence of mad max recalls moment
whens roads were truly killing fields
signs with confronting statistics begging return to form
killing fields now re opened for business
questions mark bolded in blood
to drive towards death – coercing us to beat previous records
as if powerless to halt carnage

during global oil crisis of mid 70s
read in paper about frustrated motorists turned feral at petrol station
attacking each other for last drops of fuel
later working as doctor treat numerous road accident victims
struck by nightmarish intensity
frequency of crashes
events interconnected as if city driven by malevolent forces

make funny noises
but few really understand whats happening
hurled through windscreens striking bonnets
in frozen moments people die
patterns forming on victims hands
puffed up into huge blood blister
signature of radiator emblem
stark incident underscores key insight of global acid trip
incomplete bodies fractured by demands of capitalism
bound together by signs – symbols of banal technology
disordered minds aligned with ciphers of auto death
received personal epiphany

iii. immutable natural law inextricably linked with one’s own pathetic death
drive with reason – prescribed accursed pills
mighty temporal shift outline of physical body syncing
out of phase with soul ontological layers rubbing together
moving apart again like tectonic plates
hands under dull luminescent glow of cars dashboard display
purplish hue as if photosynthesised electric light through skin
sit there for hours minutes or seconds
basking in purple light until car battery drained
dashboard glow no more
unable to recognize notion of self

// unfamiliar planet

i. something snapped inside night
glimpsing operating system propping up reality
crash exposed shape shifting narratives in media advertising
politics where every version of reality has negative image
shadow reality all part of synchronous system
keeps endlessly consuming new promises new lifestyles
new identities new tomorrows
endlessly consuming ourselves

what could be more normalized than metal skin
donned every time one enters cars
what could be more pathetic than road ragers
indulging in reckless pursuit of other vehicles
after being held up for few seconds on public tarmac
within inconsequence lurks death as philosopher paul virilio admits

ii. as ships were invented shipwrecks seemed to invent themselves
as planes manifested people invented skyscraper crashes
electricity also invented electrocution
concerned with such logic of accidents
now deploy mechanisms of ambivalence
to record visions of humanity simultaneously enthralled/
destroyed by technological environments
crashes simply fascinate without fascination
imply no value judgment however
except perhaps naked naturally subscribed to miracles

// driven by fanaticism

to never have enrolled as mature age humanities student
among less prestigious institutes of higher education
hoping insights allow making sense of ostensible subject matter
interlocking grid of capitalism consumerism social control
cover idols warped by pixelated green purple wash
badly rendered characters in low rent video games
appropriate metaphor for cyberpunk fate
virus accelerated by researcher johnny mnemonic
scripted by apparently iconic cyberpunk writer
lazy cinematic hack job turkey results
production gorged on tacky cyber special effects
resulting in messy overdriven incoherent narrative
fast paced explosion riddled ride through silicon valley
sum total little more than big dumb video clip
ripe for instantly forgettable consumption
by mtv primed target audience
margarine substitute available
to even most clueless of popcult magpies

in contrast to rapid obsolescence
valorised work as surpassing of science fiction
mutated form able to avoid absorption by media landscape
actively satirising generic baggage
crashes forensically examine fascination
sexualised violence as entertainment
wraparound ubiquity of car culture as extreme metaphor
to rub human face in its own vomit
then force it to look in dull mirror
crashes as no science fiction but worlds/ worlds

Example Reference Links


// how to play big science

An Existential Spotlight: Theorizing Super Bunnyhop

RND/ In which this very very morning you consider and analyse yourself – whatever it is you imagine your doing artistically, via the Youtube lens of George Weidman aka ‘Super Bunnyhop’:

First, a Venn diagram that tries to capture the unique, slightly oddball appeal of George’s ‘content’.

Super Bunnyhop Venn Diagram

By fun, perhaps you mean “Existentially speaking, is any of this odd shit remotely meaningful or worthwhile?” George seems well placed to answer such a challenge and philosophical provocation – more specifically, explore the interesting overlap between the various areas of his expertise.

Yet, if it’s true that ‘the artist creates the taste by which they are to be enjoyed’, then perhaps (at for new viewers) George still has some way to go in more firmly establishing his brand, which seems to currently (and non-ironically) bunnyhop between ‘Videogames’, ‘Japanese Culture’ and.. ‘The Mundane Oblique’ (?) That is, George regularly comes across as a form of sincere door-to-door salesmen, selling you the very subject areas he discusses.

And that appears a hard sell for many, given that it’s difficult to formalize and contextualize ‘areas of my cultural expertise’ that virtually nobody else is discussing – or has yet to even recognize as interesting and important.

Here’s a ‘hope’ style portrait of George: 440 x 616, 6 col .png

Super Bunnyhop (George Weidman)

George’s opening intro video (parody ‘informercial’) in which he sells Weidman themed socks, does little to help his unique artistic cause, and appears as some kind of slightly crappy, ‘file under #random’ style shit that used to appear regularly on AOL or Geocities. It does not clearly convey what George is ‘about’. It’s only by regularly getting into his content that one is able to ‘correctly read’ this intro video as “Yes, that’s very Bunnyhop.”

Another somewhat obscure channel you used to enjoy was “Zero Achievements” – a videogaming channel starring two posh blokes from the UK called Tom and Dave.

It would have been cool to see such a from-leftfield channel grow into it’s own style – to more fully ‘become what it always was’, but alas the lads don’t post videos anymore. Likewise with George, there’s the perception of something good and distinctly unlike anything else on the verge of emerging. (Just not yet?) Perhaps George is content to Super Bunnyhop around. Maybe the notion of being a ‘Non Expert’ or (Brian Enoesque?) ‘Generalist’ appeals to him. It’s just that his own explanation for what precisely he does on his channel – “pseudo-journalistic content about video games” – neither seems entirely accurate, nor very engaging..

Here’s one alternative, official, formalized take on George:

Consider George Weidman aka ‘Super Bunnyhop’ an existential ideas salesman, traveling door to door sharing his well researched thoughts about Videogame (/Industry) and-or Japanese Culture, shining his intellectual spotlight on varied Mundane-Oblique topics of similar interest.

In a synthetic environment where consumerist goldfish eyeballs seemingly must have you and your ‘stuff’ successfully labelled in under a second – “Oh, it’s about X” – perhaps channels like Super Bunnyhop are unique in the very way they don’t appear to be ‘about’ anything much at all. Indeed the best videos on Youtube are often precisely about ‘Nothing’; the as-lived, day-to-day experience and mundane strangeness of being alive.

– Or perhaps nobody even cares about whatever S.B is ‘about’ – and will indeed watch literally anything. He does has a sizeable 31.2K following on Twitter, however.

It’s just that, one hopes Mr. Weidman can become even more self conscious of his own ‘Super Bunnyhoppingness’ and dig in even deeper to his own uncommon vibe. In short – George Weidman as the very (and only) subject matter of his own interior universe..

George’s Youtube Channel


// how to play big science

Cyberpunk as an Ideological Safe Space For Transhuman Capitalist Techno-Fascist Jerkoffs

RND// To consider at least a few ways in which Cyberpunk always was a mere ideological safe space for transhuman capitalist techno-fascist jerkoffs.

A possible response or temporary 12-step satirical antidote to the uninterrupted, unfiltered gushing hype still (to this day) surrounding what basically seems only a minor vestigial sub-genre within the literary sc-fi ghetto:

Scene 000. Oh to unceremoniously drop kick Cyberpunk back into the back alley garbage it was found discarded in. Not only just another gross teen terminator power level 9000 circle jerk, but a key expression of the banal fantasy of power – always simply just Your-Inner-Dad with a new fake designer eye he utterly fails to perceive his own willful idiocy and asshole-ness from. A speculative scenario in which Cyberpunk was, and is always forever thoroughly bleached / beached plastic White (as a state of techn0-mind and will-to-dominance.) Cyberpunk as cool, only in the sense that a twitching corpse hooked up to the internet is cold to the touch.

Scene 001. Cyberpunk as a Dark (/Web) Paradise – a desperately inane Killing Joke always at someone else’s real expense, writ large on the walls of Global Spectacle – bloody, circuit-riddled idiot brains smeared up against a wall of conservative shit streaks, mere ideological shorthand for “Sociopathically Fetishized Hyper-Futurism” – that is, a perfected Utopian Dystopia or Dark Paradise for arche-typical leather clad über-dingus “Lord Edge” to strut around in – renegade maverick dick king of the biowired dung-heap, casually dishing out Cool Cyberpunk Headshots to those deemed less automatically unworthy of survival in His Brave New Data Order. Cyberpunk as something always kinda pathetic and vague and dimly violent, for tough guy wankers only – militant Ryandian individualists with a pathological Lone Wolf Syndrome chip on / in their shoulders – self important internet trolls run amok who underwent Permanent Irony-Gland Removal Procedure at vat-birth.

Scene 002. “Information Wants To Be Free.” Yeah, for a price only a pre-selected minority can pay. What ‘freedom’ in this context means is simply exclusive Neoliberal distribution rights – the heavy hidden hand of the global market place concerned only with constant ‘disruption’ – ie. constantly shaking dead tree to loosen coins from your rentier wallet – the black hole of big data pushing its dead weight around, leveling entire mountains to shave off milliseconds off sweet ‘free market’ trades. Information releasing itself from Pandora’s internet box, only as a cause for celebration for those already with the fiscal means to trade in it. And besides, who gives a flying neon tinted shit about apparently holy ‘Information’ when it’s Meaning your starving for?

Scene 003. On “The Street Finds It’s Own Uses For Things”: No. You don’t live on the street like or with almost everyone else – you merely hang about on rainy rooftops looking cool, have easy instant access to bleeding edge arm blades and high caliber A.I retorts for when you’re murdering roving mutie punk gangs. Your weak “I didn’t ask for this”™ excuse doesn’t wash here either – nobody’s buying the fact The System had you brought hook line and sinker from the very outset. This is a ‘program’ (in all senses) you already committed to with every breath of your pretty designer lungs.

Sure, you often get all angsty over the radical changes to your meat puppet body and your ongoing mis-relationship with technology (at this point, sufficiently indistinguishable from Magical Thinking) but no doubt your cool black leather jacket and ‘street cred’ will see you through another day of hard, bloody ‘biz’ and designer sex, you poor synthetic lamb.

Scene 004. The same goes for that old ‘High Tech, Low Life’ lie: whenever Cyberpunk talks of and-or evokes ‘grim meathook realities’, it’s only ever suggesting that some poor bastard making shoes out of old tires on a dusty street corner in Africa is somehow remotely ‘cool’. That is, it’s only ever cool and interesting from an ultra-privileged, White-minded, colonialist position of safety and comfort. You are not (nor never were) that abandoned orphan in some war lord torn state, forced to sell your life and labor to passing Ugly Inner Amerikan tourists in a passing air conditioned tour bus; you are not seen as entirely disposable and meaningless as the tires they cut using a bit of old wire connected to a stolen Tesla battery.

You however with your soft hands, soft wired brain, almost no moral spine and barely a fucking clue, generally live on the Lowest Default Difficulty Setting possible. So enough oozing with techno-romanticism already – all those pious industry psalms have been heard before. Cyberpunk as a cheap holiday through other people’s misery – with WiFi.

Scene 005. Anti-Humanist, Cyberpunk Transhuman Assholism 101: In which you are only ‘free’ under Global Ludocapitalism to be an ’emancipated slave’ – ie. to be free to mindlessly be consumed by mass consumption. There’s about as much potential for actual freedom within Cyberpunk Reality as there is by upgrading your fucking graphics card in order to play Cyberpunk 2077 (wow, who even remembers them Old W4r3z?)

Scene 006. Style Over Substance.

It’s like, hey, you get more street cred experience because you looked cool killing someone.” – Alvin Liu, CD Projekt Red

You mean only have style, because your substanceless and generally pathetic. But no, wait haven’t you heard? That’s recently been updated with a hotfix patch to ‘style *with* substance’ – the new old Playstation inspired Third Way, ‘Labor with a Laptop’ as they used to say in England. It’s been done to death. Talk about barely warmed over – at this point, Cyberpunk make Zombies look fresh dynamic and exciting.

Scene 007. The Cyberpunk Future Doesn’t Need You: It’s been repeatedly running itself into the ground for quite a while now. A fully automated shit show out of control – yet which is fully in control of you. Likewise, nobody needs Cyberpunk. Try living in a shitty rented room with a flickering neon sign loudly humming right outside; you’ll want to smash that shit right off with a lump hammer inside an hour. (How deadpan-ironically punk.)

Scene 008. The Only Thing Good About Punk Was Post-Punk. Punk was to Disco what Post Punk was to Syd Vicious – some dimly aggressive undead hamster who shot up speed mixed with vomit and toilet water and only impressed very few. Shit, the only thing going for Punks was the very fact they were Pretty Vacant – at least compared to Cyberpunks cosmically cringy, ultra self serious techno-fascist ‘Mirrorshades’ data highway cop look. Thankfully we collectively moved on fast after that false dead start and got Television, Wire, Cocteau Twins and No Wave. Listen to the raw power of Iggy’s Down On The Street and realize (/Cyber)punk on serious LSD tabs would be an immediate and much needed improvement. The Stooges make (/Billy Idol’s) Cyberpunk look like Fucking Abba’s Greatest Hits.

Scene 009. Cyberpunk as Pseudo-Dystopian (‘Pseudopian’): The myth Cyberpunk constantly told itself is that was it ever somehow remotely, truly Dystopian. In fact it was only ever merely fascist Italian Futurism’s love of the sounds of war and destruction – as seen from a nice balcony overlooking the carnage in the distance. Only a few Cyberpunk fiction ever truly lived in its mundane everyday world – the vast majority (of the 1% minority) always seem too busy strutting around with all the necessary implants making big deals, busy battling for data, working for the man – all meals, ammo, accommodation and associated expenses part of the exclusive Deal.

Scene 010. In which Cyberpunk is that obnoxious pasty shit-eating brat from Ready, Player One – but just armed to his perfect teeth with smart air burst ammo and a heavily modified illegal 3D printed AK47 he regularly polishes with his MAGA hat. And somewhere on the wall of his hollow rented skull you can bet is a slightly torn poster of Cyberpunk’s spiritual guru / mythical founder William Gibson – a hopeless beanpole voyeur nerd who simply wasn’t cool enough back in the day to hack it as a hippie.

Note that an anagram of “William Gibson, Neuromancer” is “Common as unreliable wiring” and perfectly describes most Cyberpunk ever conceived – that is, it was written (badly) by Console Cowboys. [‘Cowboy’ is a UK term for bad tradespeople who do a lousy job on your house, often for inflated prices.]

Scene 011. Mask Of The Colonial Gaijin: in which all Cyberpunk ever did was pick and choose other far more interesting cultures and peoples to rip off and colonialize – which were already acting Cyberpunk in infinitely far more interesting ways than, eg. the talent free director Rupert Sanders ever envisioned. Thing is, saying shit like “Kowloon Walled City is oh so (cool and) Cyberpunk” often only ever merely betrays one as a depthless idiot, entirely indifferent to poverty and human suffering – who is only ever really interested in the Advanced Techno Aesthetic, regardless of the utterly misery which built those very (/social) structures. “It sure is neat to visit there (Virtually).. [but I’m sure glad someone else is living there instead of me!]”

Scene 012. Transhumanism: as simply anti-philosophical ideological justification for ultra rich white assholes who want to live and reign forever – as if they didn’t already own enough of the fucking pie. ‘Sieg Science’ is the transhumanist motto. Bollocks to that. Coming soon to an A.I-drone graffitied wall near you: “Death To Immortals.”

In short: believe in the pathetic, darkly laughable, amazingly obsolete, acutely embarrassing intellectual poverty and conceptual / artistic irrelevance of Cyberpunk – and YOUR DEATH WILL BE LIKE BAD SCIENCE FICTION. (Note: Keanu Reeves is only remotely ‘breathtaking’ if you’re a total chode.)

Keep your games out of my politics ;-)
– Theorist Robert What

Example Reference Links

Fascinating, Rambling, Deranged: Reddit Review of Robert What

RND/ in which you wildly imagine your first (/rave?) review from the mighty Reddit, which kinda brings to mind one classic response to J.G. Ballard’s 1973 novel Crash: “This author is beyond psychiatric help.”

1846 x 3057 .jpg, edited screenshot of r/starcitizen

“Fascinating, Rambling, Deranged”: Reddit Review of Robert What

– In which what you admire about such threads seems the abhorrence of the merest possibility someone might make a lame buck off even one click linking to (fascinating, rambling, deranged) critiques of one’s particular beloved (arbitrary) meta-digital hyperkult – anyone that is, as opposed to whom? Random rich gwats who can afford to cosmically waste 30 grand on little virtual space ships – basically pissing free money onto the blessed hammy feet of Chris ‘Wow, That Forbes Article’ Roberts? ;s

[..] the whole fragmentary, somehow tragically beautiful Star Citizen phenomena could only occur online – some kind of bizarre Stand Alone Complex / fusion of Lacanian desire and techno-utopian ideology – a form of advanced collective (consumerist) ARG-LARP:

Star Citizen as ARG-LARP. Nice!

And yet even deep within The Star Cult, certain advanced acolytes without Total Hype Cataracts seem quick and intelligent enough to clearly label what you’re attempting as “unique” and “avant garde” – even going so far to suggest you’re actually someone who reads. *sudden warm inner glow*

Not that all these Attention Economy goldfish eyeballs translates to anything other than 156 measly ‘Exposure Dollars’:

Reddit Effect: WordPress Stats For Robert What

And yet, this bodes well for other modern Researchers of Big Science, who up until today have felt like (say) massive, violently vague, poorly conceptualized and dreadfully organized sci-fi projects from some impossibly distant version of the Near Future Now..

To celebrate, some recently updated Star Citizen inspired image based R&D, highlighting oh-so fox clever fiscal strategies of optimizing performance (/of keeping fanboi wallets wide open.)

3840 x 2160 .jpg – Ideal / Idealized cost for such Conceptual Work: £1.5M – contact Robert What today for details.

Star Citizen: Pretty Dope Patch

Example Reference Links

B.S Disclaimer: Robert What still currently makes zero money from this crappy random internet backwater blog.

// how to play big science

Rage 2 as the worst (most hollow) videogame of modern times

RND/ to consider poor old Rage 2, as perhaps the worst videogame of modern times – one crying out for a new theory of Hollow Videogaming to explain its particular deficiencies.

A fascinating example of a global industry long gone to creative pot and perfectly content to sit on its distinctly minor laurels, imagine Rage 2 as the digital equivalent of taste free Styrofoam Packing Peanuts; the epitome of safe, by-the-numbers design by neckless committee – the apogee of lazy and cynical Corporate Gaming Culture. Yet do not lament for its D.O.A appearance, nor its near-instant passing.

Rage 2: Abandoned Garbage

Mechanically speaking of course, its movement system and moment-to-moment gunplay seem perfectly tuned to standard AAA sub-standards. While decidedly ordinary and mindlessly repetitive (read: normalized), these systems easily pass for what’s commonly termed Fun(TM) by wandering, easily impressed ‘PC Master Race’ hordes. Rinse and repeat till you finally uninstall due to Terminal Boredom.

Blowing up spanner dumb baddies with rockets – unloading round after predictable round of shotgun ammo while in ‘overdrive’ mode into blank, expressionless faces of idiot A.Is somehow remains interesting throughout the short length of the main single player campaign. It has to be – there’s almost nothing interesting about any other aspect of the world presented. As a fragmented whole far less even then the sum of its dull, listless parts, Rage 2 feels like a vast, open world stuffed full of.. nothing much in particular.

To say this game and others like it “doesn’t exactly reinvent the wheel” seems a cosmic scale understatement. It’s a long abandoned sandbox in a post apocalyptic playground, casually littered with a few dried lumps of mutant dog crap and crushed beer cans – their ancient corporate logos scoured away by the dust of digital time and the synthetic ravages of game engine sunlight. As though every element of the game merely dropped in, right out of the Digital Void – or was simply pinched off, straight out of the industry’s dark arts.

Users often report crashes to desktop, while repeatedly sighing like unwell wood pigeons. Day one patches abound. Before release, the trailers are pure AAA, hyped up ‘bullshots’ – in game Rage 2 often looks smeary, flat, largely free of geometric detail (bring back megatextures, all is forgiven!) and amazingly devoid of anything approaching Life, Emotion – or Meaning. A barren gaming wasteland, listlessly explored in a little armoured beep-beep mobile, wondering why the heck you pre-ordered (while waiting for Doom Eternal, Halo Master Chief Collection or Keanu Cyberpunk 2077 to arrive.) In the meantime, there’s yet another wastey bandit camp for you to clear out to the deep virtual north of here.

Remember those Super Ultra Generic cans of quality consumer digestibles seen in the Alex Cox’s cult punk road movie Repo Man (1984) which just said “FOOD” on the label? Well, consider Rage 2 in the exact same hopeless category. The helpful phrase ‘naff’ describes it well; a UK term indicating something is of poor quality; dull, flat, deficient. (Think of some cheap widget brought off Ebay that breaks within a week, some small plastic bit snapped off forever.)

Despite the use of awful Andrew W.K whiteboy music, Rage 2 is about as edgy and hardc0re as Your-Dad, a game nobody asked for – and yet still somehow didn’t even really arrive, even as it limped on and then instantly off our collective memory screens. Just view recent Steam Charts for desperate, saddening proof. It’s the long tale of a dead rat.

Rage 2: Concurrent Players (Steam Charts)

The only reason it seems to exist, is that by now it’s pathetically easy for companies to throw violently uninspired games like this together, and then (apparently) make easy polystyrene profits. One can imagine the design brief, tacked to the corner of some poor, half Crunched to death gamedev’s monitor screen – “Wacky Post Apocalyptic Something Loot Shooter.” (Even so, Gamesindustry.biz reports that, comparatively speaking Rage 2 is selling about half what the original did, despite the increase in digital sales.)

As regards artfully chosen aesthetics and coherent overall art direction, at least the original Rage had some – unlike Rage 2, where precise, considered design has been replaced wholesale by garish neon hues and dumb spiky hairdos. (Most NPC’s look like Keith Flint [rip] after a heavy night out on the sauce.) Someone’s making a killing in post apocalyptic hair gel! Fetishistic dystopian nuke porn for a generation all but undead from exposure to the gamma radiation of pre-order hype. (*Cough* I returned my virtual copy within half an hour.) Despite expressing what Jim Sterling disliked about Metro Exodus – that it was hopelessly cluttered and extraneously detailed to near-Baroque levels, featuring “immaculately detailed rust” – at least the original Rage clearly indicated that, at least someone somewhere was honestly trying their best.

With Rage 2 however, the overall tonal deafness and disjunction is complete. It looks and feels like it was thrown together almost automatically, via Algorithmic Google A.I Hive Mind Tech. The visual results are at worst, amazingly banal but at best express a kind of lonely, hollow kitsch. As though the entire game’s universe is simply milling about. Much like its NPC’s. Disconnected fiddling. ‘Faffing’. Permanently idling. Waiting around for a player to come and put it out of its miserly misery with multiple bullets. Truly, a game both from and of a digital post apocalypse.

Several places in Rage 2 remind one of PUBG’s desert map Mirimar – but instead of a timeless desolate beauty, their simply non-places, disappointing loot-deficient cubes.

With Rage 2, the desperate illusion of a dynamic, breathing world has finally come to rest, utterly spent and wasted by the side of the Mad Max highway to videogaming oblivion. It’s a toothless dog that’s crawled under the porch to die, alone and unloved. From this point on, there’s an argument to be made that Rage 2 symbolically stands as the ultimate in abandoned movie sets – half built and jerry-rigged, stuck together with sun melted duct tape and cheap cans of neon paint. (Even now, you can still hear the bearings rattling inside the cans, fading into the silently howling digital desert night winds.) Rage 2 as the static between dead stations, now and forever offline.

Of course, the best-worst aspect of the Rage 2 experience must be the endless (false) need to keep running forward, endlessly scooping up those fucking blue Feltrite Cells (health shards) dropped by recently killed enemies. Naturally these disappear almost instantly, and so must be proactively collected like crack vials. This exactly mirrors 2016’s “Doom Lite”, giving players back health with each kill, thereby forcing them to wade into the fray, like Mario collecting coins. Deliberately putting oneself in harm’s way, chaining – kills like empty, unwashed milk bottle days between – because such action directly feeds into the game’s focus on constant movement as raw AAA corporate videogame consumption.

This is a naked gambling mechanic which seems inspired by the repeated pull of Las Vegas slot machine levers. A straight up dirty psychological tactic, designed for short and long term reinforcement and guiding behaviour, a form of ‘learning’ about dopamine-potential-spike like rewards. In terms of raw disgust, it has to be up there with using Deliberately Slow Walking Speeds to pad out play time (eh, Metro Exodus?) Anything, anything at all to keep us gaming and our attention off the fact we’re being actively diverted from all that truly matters. From the plain fact Rage 2 doesn’t matter in the slightest (and most certainly doesn’t give a single rusted bottle cap about us.)

The two dimensional dialogue of Rage 2 ‘characters’ is amazing – like listening to the inner cringe inducing psychic ramblings of mildly coked up strangers in some try-hard XPox 360 game lobby. Someone disposable (with bad lip sync) yelps “There’s plenty more where that came from. I’m telling you. This is the big one.” To which the listless response is “Alright, then let’s go fuckin’ get some.” Yea. Certainly the kind of quality AAA Industry writing that gets anyone pumped for the action to come! And ooh boy does it ever go on, especially in cutscenes, the first of which players encounter in a sealed vault has them breaking fingernails in attempts to claw the front door open, trying to escape what might be termed an ‘unskippable, unending inquisition by turgid narrative exposition’.

As Danny Brown says or rather screeches in one of Rage 2’s bizarre trailers, “Ain’t it funny how it happens?” To which the answer is no Dan, not really. It didn’t happen by accident but was designed that way. It seems the only point of Rage 2 is to help combat gamer insomnia. Perhaps passing poly-dimensional alien anthropologists from the impossibly distant psychedelic future will eventually pry open the dusty, long-abandoned ark of ‘our’ Corporate Gaming Culture and scratch their elegant insectoid heads in bemusement at this oh-so slight, kinda pathetic 21st Century example of Brainless Digital Fun. Hopefully they will then unceremoniously seal the ark for good, and have no trouble at all forgetting about its existence – and the oh-so safe, dull and hyper derivative product contained within.

Observant players will notice the high numbers of store front mannequins dotted around Rage 2’s blandscape, many of which sport broken televisions (maybe oldschool computer monitors?) on their idiot heads; could there be any more accidentally on-the-nose symbol of this game’s pathological uselessness – perhaps of gaming’s profoundly un-profound cosmic uselessness as a whole?

Expect to pay no more than 20 dollars when it comes out on sale, fished from the bottom of some dusty Digital Walmart bargain bucket – a mummified rodent, partially covered in pink spray paint. A dead land of bone tired existential waste and impotent ‘rage’ indeed.

What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow
Out of this stony rubbish? Son of man,
You cannot say, or guess, for you know only
A heap of broken images [..]
– The Waste Land by fascist T.S. Eliot

Update Patch: bulletpointsmonthly.com/ rejection email

Hey Robert,

Thanks for sending this over! I like the article but we’re not planning to run a month on Rage 2 anytime soon and don’t accept freelance submissions upon request.

Thanks again for thinking of us with this, though.

All the best, Reid McCarter

Example Reference Links

  1. Ehh, You Gamin’ Real Good: On Vacuous Play
  2. Paste: Rage 2 Is a Game and It Exists and You Can Certainly Play It, If You Want To
  3. The Art of Nothing: A Look at Negative Space within Videogames
  4. Compound Improvements: Do Not To Do List – Power of Empty Spaces
  5. Writing On Games (Youtube): Why Breath of the Wild’s Empty Space is So Important
  6. Psych Central: When You Feel Empty: What It Means & What to Do
  7. r/StopGaming: I Just Feel Empty When I Play Video Games Now
  8. Goombastomp: Review: ‘StellarHub’ is Nothing But Empty Space