Game of drones

A rant against postmodernity, Game of Thrones, posthumanism and – in sublime esoteric references – chemtrails. Read it and creep.

Nowadays, it is a sign of true culture and moral up-to-datedness when someone declares how he or she is not of the “Medieval” mentality. While this statement, being as obviously superfluous as much as it is obviously stupid, is common to almost everyone – so that the true culture and moral up-to-datedness is democratically distributed to any and all units of human trash – there is a sublime truth in it’s falseness. The Middle ages, namely, are time span between Resurrection and Second coming of Christ so, if one is to retain the term in it’s proper sense, we are still very well in the midst of this despicable age. The age of Transition, that is. But as the pejorative meaning of the term is absolutely the only one applied in both common and scientific moralizing discourse, we can discard the original for the use of those who believe in proper meaning of the words and deem pejoratives inapt for anything better than babble, scientific and otherwise. Few and between as they are, their opinions are of little value in the market of opinions. The truth in falseness sounds really cool, however, and is something that can be made surprisingly obvious if we but scratch the surface of the image Western societies built of and for themselves.

Namely, the disdain towards Middle ages mainly stems from identifying technological with moral development level of given epochs as a principle for moral evaluation. However strange it may seem at first glance, the postmodern man has no real problem with standard shortcomings of Medieval humanity he declaratively likes to abhor and ridicule: the violence, blind faith, unbridled lust for power and corresponding immutability of social stratification, insignificance of the individual and such. For some reason, only the practice of barbecuing the witches always pops up as ‘the’ crime of epoch, although it is a vastly Renaissance phenomena, while as with the top hot dog among them we are usually treated with Giordano Bruno, an occultist, obscurantist, spy and manipulator surprisingly similar to political-marketing experts of modernity in the vein of Edward Bernays, as late Romanian philosopher Ion Culianu had aptly shown in his book Eros and Magic in Renaissance.

But, no, contemporary man has no real problem with this, still less than with confusing of Middle ages with the Renaissance. In fact it seems he likes the cruel misendeavours of Medieval man. Does this mean he is a brute doing all those deplorable things we just listed? No. He is just the brute imagining doing them at the spectacular scale. In postmodernity that’s, more or less, the same thing.

Enormously popular HBO series The Game of Thrones is a glaring example of just how fascinated with Middle ages the contemporary people are. Admittedly, not with the Middle ages of Thomas Aquinas or Meister Eckhart, but precisely with the re-imagined – in itself highly imaginary – era of betrayal, violence, chopping of heads, human barbecues and ruthless game of power. It is all so very acceptable as a spectacle and, at first sight, harmless, as the “real life” is still being conducted in properly moral manner, where no flies are being hurt and no ugly girls fat-shamed. But then, there comes the second sight, a highly damning second sight. The enlightened societies are not lit by the light of reason – in itself an eminently Medieval, and hence discarded, term – but precisely by the neon light of spectacle emanating from on high, from screens and displays. Truth be told, society of spectacle is a rather worn out expression. Not because it’s wrong, mind you, but because it is rarely understood literally, as it in fact should be. For the real raison ‘d etre of contemporary society is literally to provide opportunity to see and to be seen, and unqualifiedly so. It carefully transports real pain and suffering to it’s outskirts, endowing occasionally the designated victim groups with religious reverence, and injects at it’s own centre a pure, moving, image. To be in the image, to be imagined, is the sole purpose of life as is becoming aptly obvious from “selfie” and amateur sex videos phenomena, and it is not just a fashion or even a sign of decadence. It is a meaning of Being. One doesn’t need Heidegger or Deleuze to figure that one out. Just take the The Game of Thrones.

The series in question is a perfect vehicle for what postmodern reality is intended to be. The enormous playground for individuals and groups in perpetual struggle, displaying infinite range of emotions, motives and moral stances, always betraying viewer’s expectations. The noble are killed in most gruesome manner, while the wicked are elevated, only to be shown, a few episodes latter, to be not so wicked, moreover: becoming even nobler than their victims; the culmination of plot tension is regularly being resolved in completely random manner, defying the rules of drama supposedly to affirm the rules of reality. But: what reality? All of this is being played out in an imaginary Medieval world of swords, human barbecues, castration, rape, crazy religion, dragons and such. Plot is randomly branching in all directions, through lives of numerous characters with hard to remember names, always indicating that something is just behind the next corner, and then ruthlessly betraying the spectator’s expectations. And spectator loves it. All that brutal reality, that tough love betrayed for few coins, the friendship discarded over politics, the erect penis cut off when it could have done so much God’s work in further episodes. All that Medieval world. The tragedy of it. The comedy of it. A real life, where victim groups are really victims grouped in a heap of mangled bodies and all those forbidden fruits of racism, sexism, homophobia free for spectator’s enjoyment. The spectator imagines himself in the midst of it. It’s something you really can’t prove, but nevertheless: everybody imagines oneself being amongst the heroes and heroines of this bloody anti-drama, making little thought experiments as he watches. “What would I do?” “Isn’t this just like in real life?” “I would stand by his side” “I would tell her to betray him”. Without immersion the spectacle is nothing. And now, when means of immersion are being developed to perfectly imitate life, the spectacle becomes the reality. The only peculiar thing is, why the hell they all love Middle ages so much?

Well, first of all, the Middle ages were something rather different from what contemporary men imagine them to be, but still: why is this image so popular with the people who accepted political correctness for state religion? Could it be the sign of rebellion against it? No. The acts of rebellion can be this or that, but watching TV is most certainly not among them. On the contrary, we are observing an act of compliance, the act of accepting the world as it mutates into virtual reality and political correctness slowly preparing it for acceptance of politically correct violence.

It is a peculiar thing how terms get inverted in the course of history. ‘Virtual’ in fact means ‘real’ as opposed to ‘imagined’ or ‘illusory’, much like the ‘dynamic’ originally denotes inertia of matter and modal category of possibility, while today it is an expression of activity and energy, i.e. it’s direct opposite. Well, the things seem to make full circle nowadays because virtual is becoming it’s proper self again. So, if we live in a virtual world, does this mean we can walk through walls? Yes it does. Admittedly, not yet, but we’ll be able to do it until 2050. as Ray Kurzweill informs us. Posthumanist dream is an appropriate term to denote postmodern reality, because it is a dream and it is not human. An actual ability to re-imagine the world in crudely material terms, to make it what spectator wants it to be, is a promise which will be betrayed, of course. But that doesn’t make it contradictory, because the betrayal of expectation is the essence of the imaginary as The Game of Thrones aptly displays. It is always ‘almost, but not yet’, the resolution is around the corner, but – damn! – there’s still another corner and another curved path, and so on and so forth. Nothing strange there, it’s just a bit of that old dream logic. St. Augustin thanked God for not being responsible for his own dreams. Plato pointed out ‘the many headed beast’ in man that awakes in dreams and which tyrants just love to feed and nurture in their populace’s minds by means of sound and vision. What has the postmodern spectator to say for itself? His dreams are projected on the screens for anyone to see, they are becoming reality. And he is very well responsible for them, no use of fooling God to the contrary. He won’t be fooled. What when imaginary morals we call political correctness get re-imagined in a fashion of imaginary Middle ages? The desire is manifest, possibilities are vast. The choice of nightmares has been made but can always be remade. Everybody wants to imagine himself in the world of real violence and never ending branching of plots, eradication of identity, the dissolution of good and evil, beautiful and ugly. On condition, of course, that they don’t get their hands dirty. No worries. If Kurzweill can make brick walls diffuse then he can very well give you a new pair of hands and new morality. Although, he needs not bother. The morality is already dissolving, as displayed in images the man of Middle ages could hardly conceive without taking automatically ascetic penance or at least a confession. The atrocity exhibition is projected on the screens as a true content of the soul of postmodern man, not as a content of the outside world. The screen is to exchange reality, as Transition into posthuman world demands. And images on that screen should be infinite game projected by worker bees of postmodernity, controlled, observed and occasionally punished citizens of the world forever at the very edge of precipice but also forever not yet over it. We can clearly observe what those images are. They are, in their most perfect form, a distilled essence of violence of the ages, projected into despised Medieval world, a virtual age of Transition, to be forever played out and to forever betray every expectation. The censorship of artistic expression in general, now present only to protect designated victim groups, was not necessarily an act of repression in the past. It could have very well been an act of protection. Because, while in the past ages nobody in his right mind would try to censor the reality, which was always there in abundant quantities, the symbols and thoughts of man were quite different and – dare we say – quite sublime, carefully carved and protected. The emotional and philosophical content of Medieval romance would be ridiculed by contemporary consumer of pornography, or, for that matter, average TV viewer. It is all so unreal. Are we then to believe that Middle ages never discovered the tragedy of existence, Heideggers Dasein was still verborgen and unentschlosen? That they knew nothing of conditio humana, of unceasing pain of it? Well, perhaps they really didn’t. I remember few years ago, while doing some manual work on archaeological digs, how I dug up the 14th century grave. It was only a casket shaped hole, walled by flat stones on the sides and topped by three big stone plates covered with earth. Nothing fancy, no pottery inside, no pieces of metal, just a female skeleton with the infant laid on top of her. The child’s little skull was split up on top as it died before bones had chance to harden, and little milk teeth were still in it’s jaw, as white as in a tooth paste commercial. Perhaps they were mother and child or maybe their fellow men just didn’t bother to dig an extra grave for someone else’s kid. They were peasants in the god forsaken land between East and West, living out their lives on barren rocks of Dalmatia backwoods, even today considered to be middle of nowhere, in the last, and probably the darkest, century of Middle ages proper. Well, I thought to myself then, what would they tell me about themselves, these ancestors of mine who soiled our god forsaken land, if I asked them was there any meaning to their living and dying. I think the woman would just shrug the question off, as women usually do when men start playing their games of conquest, intellectual or otherwise. Or, maybe, seeing me so desperate in my existential angst, she would mellow and give me an answer. She would in all probability point to the skies as there were no Cathedrals in the vicinity at that time, no elaborate visual depictions of Medieval metaphysics – projections of it’s soul – so she would have to stick to obvious in hope that I will get it. If that should be the answer of the Medieval woman to her postmodern male simulacrum, smoking a cigarette while sitting on the edge of her sepulchre, then I deem myself defeated by the riddle of this Sphinx. Because our skies are to become a screen for insane imagination of virtuality, the playground of makeshift angels watching over the virtual souls, no sense pointing to them. Almost immortal, but not just yet; almost perfect, but not just yet; almost dead, but not just yet; almost at the end, but forever not just yet. Only the violence, the violence of the soul projecting it’s dreams of ruthlessness in the world, remodelling it through myriad of gadgets, making it ruthless as it never could be of itself – yet safe for it’s enjoyment – never hurting flies or fat-shaming anyone, yet in for blood as no man ever was. A plenum of work bees in the neon lit hive of the world, playing their game of drones, projecting their image in all three dimensions of time, striving for eternity, forever in their image.

Well, if this is the future, and anyway that’s what it is implicitly imagined to be by postmodernity, then no Kurzweil nano-bots for me, no organ transplants, no cyber sex and no immortality please. Just an opportunity to dig up that grave once again, smoke one more cigarette for the road, and then to bury myself and my shame in it. For if this game of drones is final human comment on history, if this is a triumph of humanity – the CGI recreated never ending spectacle of savagery and inconsequence – then those two skeletons are noble company to spend the eternity with. If some Kurzweil like metaphysical psychopath will finally provide the humans with possibility to remodel the world in their own image, then shallow Medieval peasant’s grave seems to be an acceptable lodging, an adequate respite from an insult the human being has turned into. A good depot for a last man to bury his shame. For a man as spectator, pain of life was never smaller, the urge to inflict it never greater. The hands free from blood, the soul drowned in it. Well, that’s how it goes with the soul – this thing it’s possessors don’t believe exists, while it’s closer to them than they are themselves – it holds it’s own judgement, whether one likes it or not. The despicable Medieval man knew beauty, we know that because his soul left it’s trace in stone. What trace the postmodern will leave? None, it’s not it’s business to make the trace but to erase it. To ensure the scam of the Perpetual sold for Eternal, the “perpetual” traditionally being known as a main feature of Hell.

This, then, is the game of drones. Rats in the labyrinth deified in image, a moving icon. The final judgement infinitely delayed in perpetual run through ever branching tunnels, painting the silver-like aluminium film across the skies to close it like a tin can. What a way to go. The skies closed, not with metaphorical barbwire or avenging angels, but with high conductivity particles or something of that particular ilk, who knows exactly what. A perpetual TV party for drones, always about to commence. But not just yet. The sky as a screen for everyone to see what I, always I and only I, have to offer to the pleasure of my eyes. A great selfie of Pantokratkor.

Well, make me a room skeletal girl. It’s really tight in here. I obviously don’t mean to fat-shame you. Embrace this prodigal son, for he is dying of shame because he is human … he is almost dead …

… but not just yet.

Branko Malić

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2 Responses

  1. Angelo says:

    Take heart, good narrator:

    “All that is gold does not glitter,”
    “All who wander are not lost,”
    (In search of an Inn)
    “The old that is strong does not wither,”
    “Deep roots are not reached by the frost.”
    “From the ashes a fire shall be woken,”
    (Descent of the Holy Ghost)
    “A light from the shadows shall spring,”
    (Saul’s Conversion)
    “Renewed shall be blade that was broken,”
    (True Faith of Church Militant)
    “The Crownless again shall be King.”
    (His Resurrection’s Promise)

    quotations from Tolkien’s “Fellowship of the Ring”, Strider/Aragorn

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