No offence but the simulacrum always seemed a little whiny. Beneath that snazzy ‘68 collective-consciousness lurks the pearl-clutching of preservationists, forgery-spotters, associate profs hoarding Tiqqun behind paywalls, fashion puritans freaking the fuck out about a pair of bootlegged trainers, gatekeepers and genealogists of history. Linear time? The closest I’m gonna get to the Originary Cybergoth is Sacre (2015),1 already an involution of sincerity. The few who experienced youth subcultures when they were lines firmly drawn in the post-MTV sands traced a typical cycle: surprise (this is actually cool now?),2 indignation (but this was OURS!),3 and the confusion of collapsed, deflated and recursively re-inflated authenticity before finally passing through the temporal rift. Every 5 seconds, someone discovers death metal fonts for the first time and cops some feels - 3000 algorithmically-tuned Taobao manufacturers await to service them.4 These feelings were already adulterated and patterned since birth: social customs, language, neurochemical impulses 5.
Every idea of authenticity falters because it presumes an accessible or desirable essence or original - usually one which carries an airtight system of meaning, capital, or social control.6, 7, 8 We've all participated in the authenticity politics of selling our content or our bods online9, 10, we’ve seen the recirculation of every trend known to history, mutating slightly each time it makes its rounds. We’ve seen the ironic reconfiguration of everything mainstream and then we’ve seen the mainstream clue onto that and we’ve seen the bottom fall out of sincerity, endlessly, as a matter of course; we've created entire affective registers with which to comport to the ghosts of sincerities past. We’ve debunked the Enlightenment (and seen it revitalized for floundering universities)11, we’ve sketched out heterotopias (and ditched them as they became tourist hotspots)12. We’ve been titillated by corporate aesthetics and rolled our eyes when they came full circle as the edgy Twitters of urban startups.13 We’ve ordered one of 8 actual million anime t-shirts from Taobao and we've briefly fallen for cottagecore. 14 We've forced the poetry of our dissociative vampire-existence through the dubiously plastic forms of a cascading present: the A.D, anno domini, the time after the Old Testament god noped off the scene and the sacrificial son with his limited rebirths triangulated the ghost forevermore.
The temporal rift of contemporary culture is a storm cloud in the dark ecology of history, asynchronously vaporizing and coalescing again, forever: the next time a big ol sentimental tear rolls down your face, just try to pin that plashy combo of salt and water to an originary form. Try to trace it back to some riverbed, a fruit hanging from a tree, a bead of sweat on the brow of a god, a foggy morning over an unknown swamp, some primordial atomic soup. You can’t, of course - but you’re still crying.