30 Cyber-Days in San Francisco 1.1
Arthur and Marilouise Kroker
Yahoo! goes public and its share value zooms to $1.2 billion in a
single day. Touted as one of the big "concept buys" of the 90s, Yahoo!, like
Netscape before it, has no real value, only virtual value. And in the age of Web
economy and digital production and multi-media culture and data infotainment and
convergence among the vector giants of the new world of global
telecommunications, the only value in play is virtual value. Psychological
perception is everything: virtual value means that things have value only in
relation to the speed of their own disappearance. No longer symbolic capital or
scarcity capital, virtual value is about money in its purely mathematical stage
as a global vector, gathering speed and momentum only in relation to the end of
And why? Because pan-capitalism has finally entered the age of virtual
money. Exiting the society of consumption, refusing the reality constraints of
information culture, and certainly leaving behind the scarcity values of
industrial economy, pan-capitalism has gone over fully to the side of virtual
exchange-value. Virtual exchange-value is time after money, when value goes
supernova and in a final brilliant implosion breaks the referential link between
value and production, code and solvency-principle, use-value and exchange-value.
Time after money is neither about use nor exchange, but represents the end of
utility and the eclipse of exchange. Today, economic vectors acquire value only
to the extent that they implode beyond the inertial weight of use-value, and go
terminal on the question of value in exchange. Vector economy - the
post-production economy of time after money - is allergic to usefulness and
hostile to exchange. Time after money wants only its own death. It wants to
witness the disappearance of money into literature, to be present when
pan-capitalism finally goes parodic, when capitalism becomes a satirist of its
own exhaustion of value.
Consequently, the name Yahoo!. That's capitalism as the master of
ceremonies at its own worldwide financial roast where the point is to reverse
value, to praise by abuse, to honor by contempt, to affirm by the joke. Yahoo!
capitalism, then, for a millennial culture where money is pure virtuality, pure
disappearance, pure perception, pure speed, pure death, pure mockery.
In the digital economy of vectors and speeds and slownesses, things
have determinate value only in relation to the end of value. We are also living
in the twilight period of time after value. Beyond (popular) consciousness,
beyond (strategic) control, beyond (modernist) rationality, time after value is
understandable only in terms of the ancient language of alchemy where things are
interesting only to the degree that they are chimerical and effervescent and
liquid. Like Yahoo!, a "search engine," without real value for a society in
search of the meaning of virtual value.
Triumphant in its victory over all the old referents, from consumption
and information and production to scarcity value, pan-capitalism is confident
enough to play a joke on itself, and perhaps on us. Reviving the medieval
tradition of the court jester, it lets us into the vernacular secret of
capitalism in its (post)-symbolic stage.
Yahoo! It's time after money.
Or, maybe it's the opposite. Perhaps virtual capitalism can't stand
its own terminal speed, begins to shudder shock at its own future as a pure
vector far from the comforting shore of consumption value, and, like everybody
else in the convulsive 90s, panics at the digital wildness within. That would
explain the magical attraction of the name Yahoo!. A "concept buy" alright for a
panic capitalism that begins to clue in to its own terminal future in time after
capitalism and heads for the security of the most ancient of all referents, for
the library, for a "digital search engine," as a way of making (narrative) sense
of it all.
Yahoo! for prospecting digital gold.
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