Sunday, December 2, 2018

A Business With No End

I have never before seen a newspaper story anything like "A Business With No End", published, somehow, last week by the NY Times.

Remember that weird FBI raid a while ago on Newsweek, which hooked into the cultish group that had bought the company and had immediately set about mass-firing the journalists?

Do you ever wonder about those Amazon marketplace sellers who price items several times higher than Amazon itself does?

Have you ever had the subconscious impression that clickbait is growing like kudzu - just as fast as you've learned to evade it - and that it may have become vastly vaster than your vastest imagination could imagine?

And have you noticed that the clickbait model of aggressive, empty, attention-clogging trash has adapted and propagated to every plane and realm? As the article asks,
What is the experience of clickbait other than realizing we have vastly overpaid, even if only with our attention? News, information and products are simply someone’s inventory.
Most scarily, had you ever imagined that the kudzu of multi-realm clickbait might leap from our monitors and begin taking over our actual world? Quoting the article again:
Still harder for me to grasp was the total interpenetration of e-commerce and physical space. Standing inside Stevens Books was like being on a stage set for Stevens Books, Stevens Book, Stevens Book Shop, and Stevensbook — all at the same time. It wasn’t that the bookstore wasn’t real, but rather that it felt reverse-engineered by an online business, or a series of them. Being a human who resides in physical space, my perceptual abilities were overwhelmed.
What if all the above are weirdly related? Well, they certainly seem to be. Check out the article. But I would discourage you from reading it in its entirety. It's a vertiginous microcosm of the vertiginous house of mirrors it futilely attempts to map.

I'm dumbstruck that the NY Times even published it. It lands absolutely nowhere, serving as a deftly researched/written performance piece more befitting of Werner Herzog or Lars Von Trier than the Grey Old Lady (I suppose they did it to swipe back at the folks who ran Newsweek into the ground; journalists grant themselves unusual indulgence in score-settling against those who attack their profession).

Read the first few paragraphs, and, each time you start feeling as if you're drowning, jag forward via agitated punchy scrollings until the narrative retracts itself from each of countless rabbit holes and cul-de-sacs. Do not read thoroughly/carefully. Do not attempt to follow all the way down, and for god's sake, do not Google. There madness lies.

A ten minute browse is sufficient, and well worth the effort. In the 70s and 80s, weighty "futurists" would tell us what the future would be like, their predictions inevitably laughably wrong. But there's something about this article - this article! - that leaves me certain I've been shown a sharp picture of Life on Earth circa 2025 (i.e. just before we all perish in the rising waters). It may - or may not - be the diabolical and unknowable scheme of a slippery Korean-American evangelical pastor/spider named David Jang and his shady company, IBT Media, and his shady bible college, Olivet University, in association with all matter in the visible universe.

Update: check out this comment on the article.

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