Void Reports: 3. 3D Animation Waves for Life in the Post-Digital
Dispatch from CTHEORY San Francisco
Tuesday, February 10, 1998
Void times on the surface. But beneath the 3D animation waves crashing
on the shores of California's Pacific, history turns and you can just feel
another moment about to break for air. Or then again, maybe not.
The latest El Nino storm vectors away towards Wyoming, a beautiful
rainbow arcs across San Francisco Bay with the fabled pot of fool's gold
touching down Sausalito way, a letter comes by snail mail announcing the
formation of a new coalition of S.F. artists - C.A.L.F. - for defending human
and other life-form's rights in genetics and cloning, Tony Blair's on TV beaming
like a public schoolboy in Clinton's afterglow, Ronald Reagan gets an airport
and Bob Hope an honorary British knighthood, the budget's balanced on the backs
of Welfare Bill(ed) poor people, and everyone's settling down for a prime time
TV schedule of two Olympics, the first the virtual sports machine in Nagano and,
immediately thereafter, the virtual war machine Olympics in the skies over Iraq.
My open window into the Y2K future is provided by Georg Lukacs'
History and Class Consciousness, particularly his essay on "Reification
and the Consciousness of the Proletariat." The historical debris of the
slaughter-house that is the 20th century floats across the page, and I can't
read a sentence without downloading all the spectres and the ghosts and
blood-failures of the dream that was Communism into the words of the text.
Lukacs speaks of the historically necessary "class consciousness" of the
proletariat, and I think of the defeat of the proletariat by two great orders of
cynicism: the cynical power of the "dictatorship of the proletariat" in the
socialist East and the "dictatorship of the Swoosh" in the capitalist West.
Lukacs breaks with the organic revolutionary sentiment of Rosa Luxemburg in
favor of centralized party control, and I think of the great rebellions of
consumer revolutionary sentiment that swept away the CP in Russia, Poland, East
Germany, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Romania, and
Bulgaria. Lukacs speaks of historical materialism and I think of Albert Camus'
more prophetic words in The Rebel where Camus said that the will to
absolute justice equals absolute murder in the name of reason. Hegel to Marx to
the Gulag. Lukacs has the chisel of ideology in his hands, writing a beautiful
tombstone in the granite of history and class consciousness. A Marxist
dialectics of sacrificial idealism and cynical power.
The pages of the book turn to dust, history dissolves into a slow
fade, and the storm winds of really existent politics reduces itself to life as
digital fingers, spastic desires and datacide speech. But then I flip open the
text again to that final passage where Lukacs breathes the spirit of capitalism
in the age of the millennials. Speaking of the future contradictions of
capitalism, Lukacs states:
(T)he contradiction has two aspects: on the one hand, there is an
increasing undermining of the forms of reification - one might describe it as
the cracking of the crust because of the inner emptiness - their growing
inability to do justice to the phenomena, even as isolated phenomena, even as
the objects of reification and calculation. On the other hand, we find the
quantitative increase of the forms of reification, their empty extension to
cover the whole surface of manifest phenomena. And the fact that these two
aspects are in conflict provides the key signature to the decline of bourgeois
"Inner emptiness" and "empty extension". Dead duration and dead
motion. Void time and void space. Where reification exits politics and enters
the skin of culture like a disease. Or maybe something else. Capitalist life as
a history of dead intensities. From alienation (Marx) to reification (Lukacs) to
simulation (Baudrillard) to vectors (Deleuze) to a "substitute reality"
(Virilio) to the virtual class and, finally, to 3D animation waves (California)
networking the global mind, a massive digital impulse redesigning the inanimate
future, all the while energizing the dying spirits of the "natural form" of
capitalism - the empire of the necropolis.
Post-digital life, then, riding the vector of 3D animation waves. Dead
resurrection-effects for that moment when the only really existent life-forms
will be spawned in the cloner pools of bio-tech.
Georg Lukacs, History and Class Consciousness, Cambridge, Mass.: The MIT
Press, 1968, p. 208.
© CTheory. All Rights Reserved