There will come a time, my friends, when everyone is remembered. These days, with the world embracing Big Brother and all the convenience he offers, with each human being of average intelligence and desire inheriting the aim of ‘becoming famous’, with talk shows providing those grinning masses with nothing to say a means to say it, we are willingly imprinting our ontological detritus upon the memory of the machine.|
Dates of birth, council tax records, credit card bills, consumer spending habits, telephone usages and preferred nutritional flavours all recorded for manipulation and interpretation by Corperia, the nation with money as its flag. But why stop there? A camera upon every street, gazing impassively down as the muggings continue, but this time with a higher probability of prosecution. Digital cameras atop computer monitors revealing the dull lives of the internet enhanced. Now your fifteen minutes of fame is only a credit card purchase away, and can be stretched into a full twenty-four hours of uninterrupted service.
Littering cyberspace are web sites agonisingly referred to as home pages and, obediently, their owners fill them with the day to day mundanities of their homes, their dogs, their children’s newly bulging warts. The mountains and valleys that were the cultural icons and silent, consuming masses of our previous age of information dispersal have been replaced by a bubbling, seething porridge of media. Everyone may add to the pot and with more channels on the way, more books being published, an avalanche of magazines vomiting from the presses, the onus of discernment of what is Good or True or Valuable has shifted from the editors to us.
Glory! The open modes of communication have finally arrived but the flood is threatening to engulf our puny minds, evolutionarily unprepared for this sudden increase in input. A being will learn more from her daily browse of a broadsheet newspaper than the average 18th century citizen would in his lifetime. Yet switch on the TV — another channel, another medium. Flick around the radio. Open the floodgates of the internet. We are gasping, drowning in content.
Drowning, too, in familiarity. We can’t help but bump into personalities as we navigate our way through our cities. Television presenters, comedians, advertising performance artists, and they will soon be struggling for breath as the ocean of ego rises, swelled by fragmentary personalities known perhaps not for their solid media careers but their salubrious deeds; Presidential cock-suckers or the Sun’s tit parade, for example. Celebrity stalkers become themselves stalked by sub stalkers lurking further down the celebrity pile, once their well covered trials have returned verdict.
As the global ego swells, weeping through from one medium to another, internet celebrities interviewed by radio personalities who are, themselves, being filmed by independent production companies with a flair for post-modern double coverage ... hmm, sounds interesting ... could we run an article? ... each fragment of individuality is examined, measured, speculated upon until everything it was is sucked dry, marketed to adoring fans, teased out until it becomes a cellophane thin shadow. Even now the media beast is casting about itself and fastening its fangs into ‘ordinary people’, a gut-wrenchingly sickening phrase, in an attempt to discard the damaged self-absorption of celebrity and make contact once again with innocence.
Besides which, it’s cheaper.
But the stain spreads, infecting these poor innocents the moment the camera’s baleful red recording light flickers into life. The glassy eye whips around, steered by instantaneous consumer feedback through digital TV. The camera shivers, its dimpled casing beginning to undulate and breathe, a shimmering reptilian skin replacing the plastic. It hisses like a snake and sprouts wings, the better to soar towards a story, a face, anything as yet unseen. For they’re getting bored, those poor Watchers glued to their command centres, remote controls in hand. They’ve realised that humanity has become homogenised on a diet of McDonalds, Coke and ricewater television. They’ve had enough of yet more transparent, grinning clubbers mouthing clichés they, themselves, consumed from another TV program. They’ve had enough, these Watchers, of barely conscious, barely glimmering talk show stars trickling dull, lifeless words from their mouths for an hour as they shoot the shit with their unconvincing guests. It seems to these poor, hungry Watchers that the more channels they pay for the more they discover slickly presented programmes which feature ordinary people sitting, remotes in hand, scouring the airwaves for flickers of originality. It’s not even a buzz, any longer, when they stumble across themselves on their screens, watching themselves, watching themselves, fed back down a self-referential video tunnel into infinity.
The cameras, now fully evolved into scaly, mobile demons throb with new purpose, urged on by these jaded masses. They scream into the air, flapping their wings, no longer connected to the networks by primitive cabling. Like us, they lost their tails during their evolution. And they scour, these beasts, the world, seeking out the quiet ones who thought they could escape the flabby, self-obsessed ego. The cameras shoulder their way into these placid lives and bark out questions submitted by e-mail. How do you live as you do, without media coverage? Who are you? What do you eat? Your favourite pop icon? Describe your silence to us in intimate detail!
For the new celebrity is that of occlusion and mystery. The coquettish ones who held back, who didn’t spill their reality like offal for all to pick over.
The deeper the mystery, the more desperate the Watchers become, driven almost to movement by the shivering delight of discovery. Great searchlights of curiosity stab into these backwaters, flooding them, agitating the stillness and finally corrupting and destroying.
The first to go are those who simply didn’t have the imagination to leap aboard the media train as it started up. Their lives, even more mundane than those of the Watchers, are pored over in scientific detail, each barely perceivable nugget of individuation dancing like an intellectual orgasm across the nervous systems of the Watchers. This occupies them for a time.
Meanwhile, the cacodaemons screaming through the air have been probing more deserted areas of the Earth. Here and there, like swarms of bloated wasps, they hover above remote civilisations. The delight with which the Watchers consume these new images is a sight to behold. Some of them struggle to their feet, loose folds of lazy blubber swaying as they do so, for it has been a while since these creatures have been motile, and struggle into Amazonian Puchta T-Shirts, or play DVD soundtracks of the last, gasping recordings of Tibetan prayer, before they can tune in daily to the Dali Lama’s own talk show.
Now it becomes difficult. Those better prepared for this assault of observation have already fortified their defences, but it’s like trying to hold back a tsunami. Highly evolved cameras the size of flies, little creepy-crawly microphones edge their way past the securest doors. The mysteries of financial barons, so long merely names and numbers in the broadsheets’ stock lists, now inspire whole continents to dine Italian. An old spinster in a remote farmhouse digs a potato up for her dinner and the world tuber market goes through the roof. Still more is required as these wells of originality and, lets face it, difference are tapped and sprayed across the Watchers’ eyes.
Now comes the turn of the morally unique. Long before have the simple sexual pleasures of the races been observed aghast or with nervous but fascinated titters. Under the guise of hard hitting reportage, the cameras ease their way into dark practices, barrelling through S&M and Bondage, retailing the treasures of Domination in the form of a Christmas board game. The mysteries and magiks of Tantra are converted into pocket sized How To books, with an accompanying athletically presented participation show at 5PM on a Sunday.
Devil worship is consumed, absorbed and regurgitated in documentary form as Satan himself withers under this insouciant light, suddenly leaving his worshippers with a hole in their faith. Violence remarkets itself as a healthy alternative to motor racing. Convicted felons are now no longer handed sentences but brickbats, the better to defend themselves on the family show ‘Fighting For Justice’.
There are now only five or six character types in existence around the globe which makes the problem of overpopulation easily addressable. Many of the redundant mounds of flesh propped in front of their televisions are ‘disconnected’ with either a searing blast of electricity administered through the remote control or perhaps a vicious memetic pulse that flashes and glitters upon the screen, driving horrible archetypal images deep into the Watchers’ psyches, their nervous systems lighting up like pinball machines, their hearts stuttering to a halt on command.
There must, of course, remain a quantity of Watchers, for quantum physics demands a selection of observers lest the entire region of space-time vanishes up its own superposition.
But all is not lost...
Ah, no. We could prance merrily in the same direction here, following the final, strangeterrible blending of flesh and metal, scaly cameras still searing through the sky in pursuit of the original as the networks extrude wiry tendrils into their watching public, becoming over time a biomechanoid entity with all the channels and nothing to watch...
But there is a silver lining.
For in the latter part of the twentieth century, only moments before we roll into the twenty-first, a new species has begun to evolve. Flowing in their veins is blood fizzing with a liquid grin. It sometimes floats up to their faces and unsettles those who are unfamiliar with it.
These creatures have long been lurking in the genetic structure of humanity, waiting for their chance to leap out and begin to creep amongst the sleepy, reactive, sheep-like catatonics as yet unwoken from the dream state into which they have allowed their leaders to lull them. The new creatures resemble human beings, indeed they are human beings, but have made the final evolutionary jump which was the destination nature had intended. They dwell in their bodies with knowing smirks, moving in the shadows of the media feeding frenzy, watching, waiting, filling themselves up with crackling ideology, arcs of electric thought surging through their minds. As they watch, they too notice the homogenisation of the species, they too notice with detached amusement how the governments shepherd those who allow themselves to be led.
Distilling in their minds are strange new thoughts, thoughts which protrude from our simple, deceptive three-dimensional world into hyperspace and beyond. They are growing psychic limbs, these creatures, the better to navigate the heady metadimensions of ideaspace. To the outside observer they are simple souls with perhaps a skewed sense of humour. Yes .. that seems to be their uniting factor. A sense of humour that doesn’t quite match with the worlds’. The sort of humour which can take in the tragedy of a nation that is sending financial aid packages to a country which was its sworn enemy only decades before in order to secure its own illusory global financial system — a humour that can take in such a scene and smirk. For these creatures know that these global thrashings are ultimately irrelevant and doomed to extinction.
They are beginning to realise, these creatures, that a few words here and there cascade through the minds of the sleepers in remarkably predictable ways and, with great love and supreme gentleness, these newly evolved beings are negotiating their way through this simplistic, media bled environment with the magikal use of words. They are learning to weave universes before the eyes of those willing Watchers behind which they can hide. The swarms of cameras will pass them by every time because they are simply looking the wrong way.
In global censuses, numbers will be missing. Entire streets will exist which simply do not appear on maps. A carefully fractured reality will be spun, through which these new creatures slip silently, with great intention and utter anonymity. These Unobserved will at first nudge the minds and thoughts of their sleepy cousins the better to secure their niche and thence to obscure themselves from the groping tentacles of the media machine, tentacles which for them will be blind and senseless.
Working, then, under a masque of non-existence they will guide the evolution of the human race in better and headier ways than it has seen in millennia, leading them out of the trough of nest-soiling and personal bickering into which they have fallen and into a world of love and, ultimately, exploration. A looking outward, and a looking inward with true sight, clear sight, the sight of the inspired.
Yet even with the enormous power these creatures will have to shadow men’s minds, or envelop humanity in multilayered world pictures the better to guide them, they will not fall into the trap of dominion. These new creatures don’t give a fuck about the domination game, except when it prolongs orgasm. They have instead developed a fascination with the mysterious conglomeration of Stuff they find themselves living in, walking on, eating, seeing and being. It is by curiosity and a desire to share that they are led, and when they leap through the minds of the populous either as smoothly as a passing photon or with the intention of leaving, newly secreted, a glittering idea, in effect inhabiting the ecosphere of the global mind, they will do so with equanimity and with exquisite care.
When, finally, they leap from the bodies in which they were born, in which they remembered themselves, and realise that all that prevents them from moving from that locality of space-time is a preoccupation with the illusory limitations of density, they will not desert their sleepy brothers and sisters, but will linger to guide them and provide the opportunity for them to follow, should they one day awaken.
They are as varied as snowflakes, these creatures, yet they share some traits. They all have a sense of humour, they are all inquisitively intelligent and, most delightfully, they are all, to a man and to a woman, utterly insane.
They know who they are.