Tag Archives: postmodern

The Shrieking Present

Fredric Jameson noticed a very significant thing about the era awkwardly labelled “postmodern,” namely its abject submission to a present detached from both past and future and, therefore, unmitigated in its envelopment, totalitarian in its presence.

The past is the body of the symbolic Father, and a culture that has “foreclosed” the Father, excised his figure from its history, is a culture bereft of history, a culture bereft of origins and, therefore, compelled to seek its origins in labile paranoiac fixations on imaginary figures (like the “straight,” “white'” “dead” male) that represent the past as a mortal threat to the fantasmic “identity” of the postmodern ego.

A culture “emancipated” from patriarchy breeds psychotic subjects. Today, these psychotics call themselves “woke,’ an apt term given that one of the characteristics of schizophrenia, particularly in its paranoiac form, is the conviction that the descent into paranoia is an awakening to the true reality hidden behind the conventional one. By dint of sheer numbers, magnified by social media, these awakened lunatics have succeeded in elevating madness into policed dogma. Nothing else can explain insanities such as now pass as established truths in Western educated circles: the belief that gender is independent of sex (not just metaphorically, but concretely, to the point of granting unassailable validity to claims that men can have periods and are capable of pregnancy); the belief that women are better men than men; the belief that only discrimination accounts for the unequal distribution of merit, beauty, talent, and attention.

In this context, what are misnamed “social media” are in actuality the agents of social disintegration. Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and related technologies, broadcast and amplify the shrieking of the present, insisting on an absolute and exclusive claim on our attention, inciting the spasmodic regurgitation of shopworn group prejudices that constitutes “self-expression.”

When the present is everything, one exists only in the moment and only to the degree that one can gain the attention of the moment. Failure to gain this attention is existential nullification, something worse than death.

Therein is the link that connects social media “addiction” to acts of random mass violence: the desperate striving for the attention of a capricious but deified present that has cancelled both history and posterity.