geert on Mon, 10 May 1999 13:06:17 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Adilkno: The Future of Negativity

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The Future of Negativity
By Adilkno

"All advice is bad, but good advice is fatal." Oscar Wilde

The future has become completely predictable; a script that is being
worked through from A to Z. The Plan has finally prevailed. There are
merely some anomalies, corrections that have not yet been made. All
arguments are for the following of the prescribed route. It is true that
there are always a number of simultaneous scenarios that are partially
overlapping and partially mutually exclusive. But they have one thing in
common: they are all true. Will it be an ecological catastrophe or an atom
bomb? Whichever you request. Humanitarian disaster or military defeat? The
choice is yours. Will it be abstract or figurative? Whichever way the wind
blows. Brazil or China? All options have been thought through. All the
right specialists have been found and their reports are ready and waiting
to be implemented. The field of vision has narrowed to one perspective,
wherever you look. There are no surprises, only possibilities. Reread
Musil. Even the biggest problems (AIDS in Africa, Bin Laden in
Afghanistan, Milosevic in Belgrade, Clinton in Washington) will never be
more than entrances to new markets.

At the moment they appear, all phenomena already contain the structure of
this model. All that remains to us is the dull task of unravelling the
software underneath. The number of programmes is extremely limited. The
hermeneutic and semiotic reading of the world puts up a smokescreen which
manages to enchant us again and again with its wealth of shapes, turns and
suggestions of depth, but alas, in fact it is all a bit simpler than that.
The theory of difference is no more than a cloth for the bleeding in the
"abimes superficiels." Unbearable (and irresistible) simplicity is no
longer really distinguishable from banality, and this sends many a public
intellectual fleeing to the safe haven of interpretation. Through this
mechanism, an originally critical practice like cultural studies has
slipped away into a safe, meaningless sketch of image culture. "Visual
culture" has degenerated into a profession with prospects. This is how
modelistic thinking works: once you get it, you can apply it to anything.

We locate this suprahistory when we train our gaze on the sub-human level.
The drama of micropolitics: the pension plan is in place by the time
you're 21. Try and get out from under that. A little heli-skiing won't do
it. Total burnout at 26 seems like it might help, but it turns out later
to have been just a sabbatical. RSI at 14? Just as easily. What else is
the future but paying off mortgages and life insurance? The secret
collective longing for a market crash, i.e. a world war, remains a last,
authentic expression of the longing to make a clean sweep, to undergo an
adventure and then start all over. The hippies supplied this model.
There's no running aground, lost ideals or middle-aged cynicism in this
case  that would have been the fall-of-man model. Yesterday's hippies are
today's crisis managers, guiding whole peoples at a time through their
dips. They work according to the dynamic model, which uses resistance to
get ahead by systematically improvising. In this model, things must go
wrong for one to become a success. This is in contrast to the compulsory
positivism that three-quarters of the world must disavow to preserve its
good humour. Hippie thinking is happy with any opposition and derives its
energy from it.

Negativity rejects every model; that much is clear. But is repudiation,
however elegant or brutal, not itself also a model? Negativity
distinguishes itself rigorously from deconstructivism. Deconstruction is
an installation CD-ROM that always works. But the software's ability to
anticipate is nil. Something must be built up before it can be taken
apart, thus the orientation to the past. The nice thing about this model,
however, is its youthful elan in believing that the future can be
predicted. That is the game Soros plays. His theory of reflectivity is
based on a solid foundation of European negativity. This is why he can
stay "ahead of the wave" while legions of market analysts get caught in
their own sales speeches, whose nonsense they can never understand, since
belief in their spiels is precisely the product they're selling. And
non-monetary negativity, where is that? Who can enjoy the certainty of
decline, and benefit from it? What a riddle! But one thing is sure: there
will always be enough that can be destroyed. "As long as there is death,
there is hope."

The future of thinking, the development of forms of expression, planetary
architecture, these are all projects of others. Negativity is an
experimental attitude, an exercise in remembering, followed now and then
by a short series of outbursts, and then a long period of hiding inside
normality. Optimism can turn into gloominess. On the other hand, it is
impossible for cheerfulness to neutralise negativity. Negativity is itself
a form of cheerfulness. There's no future for negativity, a punk would
say. The marketing department of (TM) should really be at its
wit's end, but that is not the case. Negativity continues unexpectedly to
do well, generation after generation, even as it denies its own future.

Translation: Laura Martz

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