Author: Ricardo Dominguez --- Date: 09/04/96 --- Copyright: ThingReviews NYC

Interview with the Krokers
by Ricardo Dominguez

part of St. Martin's Press CultureText Series,
is Arthur and Marilouise Kroker latest
road trip into digital flesh, neo-liberal ruins,
shopping at the GAP with Nietzsche, and virtual
America as it downloads its manifest destiny
into nano-culture. This wired text is accompanied
by a spoken-word CD that provides a
sonic tour (sample wav, 358Kb) of the Kroker's
as they spasm down the road of
accelerated mutations. The music is composed by
David Kristian and Steve Gibson--its got a great
beat and you can dance to it, next time you have
a meltdown. So keep your chip eye and ear open
for any Kroker hackings at your local culture trash
bin and make sure you vist CTHEORY for fresh
uploads on the digital suicide drive as it happens
--way better than CNN.

Q. HACKING THE FUTURE is a virtual road trip across the blast sites of a terminal America, an America exiting history, and crawling amidst the ruins of the neo-liberal dream--everything is in a state of fading out. Do you sense any type of counter-hacking that would allow the emergence of zones that could sidestep the force of the ruling cultural algorithms? Or is this now a complete impossibility?

A. We're no believers in the romantic, but deeply uncritical, vision of autonomous zones. This logic still works within the isolationist logic of normal imperialism and, in fact, may be its necessary double. In pan-capitalism, political culture is permeatated with the viral logic of neo-liberalism, and zonal consciousness is its triumphant victory sign. Rather than get off at the exit marked "temporary autonomous zones," opposition to the ruling cultural algorithms should be a matter of deepening intensities, and subverting zones. Not autonomous, but mutating. Not zones, but outlaw viruses. Like the Zapatista's in Mexico who transform a local political struggle into a global critique of neo-liberalism, or the Crees of Northern Quebec who mutate their critique of the purity of the neo-colonial logic of Quebec nationalism into a broader struggle for indigenous peoples.

Q. Memes seem to be part of the total eclipse of the brain, a bad joke, that has some of our best minds fighting over an imaginary code that only supports the retro-techno state,a California dream-state. Can all this meme fasination produce anything? Or is just another exit on the road of millennial cultural-politics?

A. Neo-darwinianism is all the political vogue these days, and memetic consciousness is its dominant cultural sign. But like all signs, memes are reversible. On its techno-side, it is the epistemological consciousness of the virtual class, which finds in memetic discourse an entirely self-affirming vision of the exteriorization of flesh into the culturescape. In memetic discourse, culture comes alive, and bodies are dumped into the residual category of surplus flesh. On its alien side, memes are ambivalent, speaking also of the futureworld of (our) bodies as they go extra-terrestrial. There's an alien in our (human) consciousness, and it's not so bad.

Q. We are now under the signs of hyper-terrorism and retro-facism. The enemy is no longer them,or the other, but us--in the home. We must now keep constant surveillance over our selves, our bodies, and our links. Is part of our flesh-eating manifest destiny to become auto-terrorist? Targeting ourselves for extinction just for the fun of it? Just for the taste of it?

A. Auto-terrorism is the delirious fetish of the pre-millenial 90s. And it's perfect. Great holy crusades against weakening flesh have to be ceaselessly carried out--self-crusades against smoking, drinking, drugs, language, thoughts, desires, dreams. A relentless will to purity turns its revenge-seeking head from middle-class, right-wing excursions into the public realm (anti-immigration, anti-aliens, anti-welfare mothers), and comes to suppress the enemy within. As Hobbes said in the Leviathan, the liberal self knows that it can't trust anybody because when it first looks into itself, it knows that, above all, it can't trust itself. The equality of insecurity that is the hallmark of the modern project gives rise also to vicious bouts of self-inquisition, self-debasement, and self-terrorism. Or, as Nietzsche said, when self-pity merges with feelings of self-contempt, the result will be monstrous consciousness. Monstrous consciousness? That's the ecstasy and anxiety of auto-terrorism. And all of this, just for the fun of it.

Q. With neo-liberalism in ruins and everything else floating in the cultural toilet bowl waiting to be flushed away--what does the virtual class gain? What do they hope for in this new world code? Or is it the old specter of nihilism just riding the shock-wave of the new again?

A. Under the dominant ideology of neo-liberalism, the virtual class is driven forward by limited goals and limitless horizons. Limited goals because as the digital successor to the emergent bourgeoisie of early capitalism, the virtual class of pan-capitalism seeks, in the short term, to maximize its utilities: profitability, power, and social standing. As a class still wed to the rites of capitalism, the virtual class is both motivated by the values of pan-capitalism and compelled, to a great extent, to limit its aspirations to the horizon of capitalist production. However, what makes the virtual class a virtual class is that in the long run it is both the advance edge of pan-capitalism and its potential antithesis. In its anti-capitalist phase, the virtual class is driven ahead by dreams of exiting material reality, decoupling itself from the rituals of the high-intensity marketplace, and ushering in a new universal extra-human history: the history of digital flesh and recombinant imagination and memetic culture. This is not Nietzsche's spectre of suicidal and passive nihilism, but something different: fetish nihilism for a virtual class that wills to mutate flesh into digital reality.

Q. As the fatal clock ticks away and the corpses begin to do HTML--should we hang-out at the GAP more? What should we wear for the end of the end? Should we all just move to Las Vegas and bet on Baudrillard or Virilio? What are you two going to wear? Where are you guys going for the post-party?

A. The post-party is already over, and we're already at the wake. It's called remake culture: remake cigars, remake cocktails, remake love, remake flesh, remake fetuses, remake liberalism, remake interface, remake terror, and remake oblivion.

We're outta here!

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