Man has always been a lesser power compared to that of his image, but it was not until the Spectacle rose that he realised it. By then it was already too late. The invasion was complete as man put down his sword and torched the horizon pink with the dull light of advertising, when angels left the heavens and walked the earth as celebrity and language became a fiction — then man was set adrift in an emptiness he had created but could not explain.
The old shadows of the cave wall now seem a middling embarrassment compared with the brilliance of the five-and-a-half-inch glass it was traded for. What once subsisted on fire now stolen from the ground; assembled in China beneath a beige sky patterned by the crisscrossing of suicide nets — the price of pleasure bought in blood and yet not a single drop to show of it. Hands as clean as machine-washed conscience. The engines of commerce do not carry their screams across the sea.
It was not long until the time sorcerers began turning a generation glassy eyed on the metro — sleek rectangles their sigil, dark magic weaving a thick and tangled web of strings pulling the limbs of puppets in a janky mimicry of flesh. An entire culture teeters on the edge, bound together in their isolation as they shout borrowed idioms into the void. They do not know what life is. How could they when death is staved off with a touch, summoning food to the door?
The great dialogue ceases — once more, the Fall. The spirit vanquished, no divinity, only commodified souls stripped down to their most essential forms. They travel across a bottomless feed, the distance of the wasteland made incognizable without pain to measure it by. This journey is impossible without destination, lost when everything here is awash in acrid irony — even sincerity a statement to be manufactured and desired, another veil of image to shroud the real and nothing more.
Stilling yourself against the night, you keep the plugs in your ears just to remind you the matrix is always waiting. Nietzsche is right there, on speed dial — the angry, ugly prose a shot of dopamine direct to your veins. With it you feel yourself slipping (the afternoon, again?) and the panic rises to a pleasant hum, doing little to drown ought the heavy ebb and flow of memetic currents saturated in thought and feeling, desire and impulse ratcheted to their breaking point, a kaleidoscope of sensation mutating until you feel nothing, do nothing, are nothing.
Blurry eyed (what once was an hour no respectable adult meant to touch is now an all too familiar embrace), you remember the time your parents carried you in their arms at the airport, the blinking red-green pilot lights of industry — dow jones, forex — whispering incantations above your swaying heads. Your memory of the beach is nothing but the glossy sheen of a travel brochure, the sand beneath your toes a digitised fiction you may as well have never felt.
You don’t have thoughts; you don’t make choices, you’re just reacting to an ever accelerating range of stimuli with which you respond to — Pavlov’s dog stuck in his own transcendental fantasia. Remember when you had dreams that were your own? Remember what it was like to lead a life of want and longing? To taste your mother’s cooking and smell the rose garden in november and smile at your neighbour as you pass her in the supermarket freezer aisle? What was her name? I don’t know — I don’t remember. Everywhere I once saw doors, now walls.
I close my eyes. I can’t recall the last time I woke up. I lay in silence and listen instead — you can spend the whole night listening, if you want to, if it helps (there’s not much else to do). When I do I can hear their whispers. Softly at first, distant and then louder, growing into a gradual cacophony as it drowns out my own absent thoughts. Always, their chant keeps the same steady beat — almost as if they take pleasure in it, like the seven dwarves singing as they work (heigh ho) — and the three words over and over, endlessly.
You are nothing.
You are nothing.