Friday, 15 June 2012

The Marriage of Reason and Squalor...again - Dinos Chapman

Foreword to Bibliodyssey

To whom it may concern,

The Marriage of Reason and Squalor... again.

Whilst thanking you for inviting me to
contribute a foreword for your book, clearly a
splendid effort, I feel compelled to voice a
forewarning regarding the internet, which is at
least partly its subject. It is a treacherous minefield
to be trodden with trepidation if it is to be used for
anything other than a prurient delve into the
seamier side of human frailty. And whilst I am
unsure as to whether it is as yet of sufficient age to
contain any really dusty corners, it certainly does
have innumerable Iess than spotless ones.
   At present widely (though I fear
misguidedly) perceived as the fountain of all
knowledge, a veritable Library of Alexandria, the
internet would be better compared to the Tower of
Babel, in its confusions, inaccuracies misdirections
and meanderings, a largely abused resource, as
with many other contemporary technological
innovations, infected with the malaise of over familiarity
fused with idiocy.
   Visions of a techno-nirvana, glimpsed at the
conception of the information age by goggle-eyed
prematurely balding, pale-skinned computer
technologists schooled in unattainable utopian
idealism, that promised a Brave New World, an
informational arcadia, vibrant with abundant, free
flowing knowledge, liberated from location and
ownership, an all-encompassing forum for all
wisdom, of course rapidly degenerated to a
grotesque charade. Its birth fumbled, the baby
dropped on its head, a drooling rheumy-eyed
imbecile, blinking in the harsh Californian sunlight,
all expectations dashed, potential squandered.
The dream evaporated, the promised land a mirage,
receding rapidly over the shimmering horizon.
   Information was not going to free the world
any time soon, but neither was it going to propel it
into a Matrixesque dystopia, the threat that personal
computers allied to a global network once presented
to the governments of the Free World, (apparent
missile-launching capabilities, dissemination of
radical politics, sensitive information hacking, the
rise of the robots...) appears to have been
overstated, a damp squib, the stuff of paranoid
science fiction. The emergent usage of this futuristic
technology is altogether more prosaic, in time
honoured tradition, it has been dragged down to its
lowest common denominator, a labour-saving device
of the most crass order: a less than useless tool for
ordering cold inedible pizza from around the corner,
a plain cover wrapper for pornography, the discrete
purchase of Viagra, the sending of virtual birthday
cards... As the spectre of power in the hands of the
masses dwindled, the sighs of relief were all too
clearly audible.
   Adept at crashing around on the World Wide
Web with all the finesse of a class of demented
five-year-olds at milk break, simultaneously unable
and unwilling to concentrate on anything for longer
than it takes to click on the 'next image' button, we
are mesmerised by the box that the internet was
delivered in, happy to squat in it and pretend.
We would be just as content with a Fisher-Price
designed internet with nice rounded corners and
just one big red button, labelled 'entertain me'.
Even its terminology is infantile: cookies, Google,
wizards, blogs, lull us into a false sense of security,
this is a friendly place, nothing bad here.
   Yet this global village, an insignificant and
squalid burg, has us hypnotised with the cheap
flickering lights, slick graphics and gaudy colours of
Its sleazy infotainment grotto, global village idiots,
blinkered and dribbling, we gleefully hobble on
atrophied legs (in lieu of a healthy walk to the local
library, and in an effort to minimize our carbon
footprint, how about computers powered by
treadmill...) along the well trod malodorous mire
spattered single track information superhighway,
that terminates at Google, that vast gaping midden
of febrile enterprise and misguided attention, the
final triumph of squalor over reason. An End of Days
super jumble sale of interminable collections of
feeblemindedness: strangers' holiday snaps, their
comical dogs/cats/goldfish, collections of amusing
rnisshapen vegetables that resemble penises,
misshapen penises that look like vegetables, garden
furniture mishaps, cute babies, ugly babies, an
exhaustive study of every gurn ever performed by a
baby, babies with too many/not enough heads...,
milfs, camel-toes, spring-breaks, nipple-slips, happy-slaps, train wrecks, pissed mates,
ex-girlfriends, dog fights, cat fights, freaks, faeces,
faces of death, beheadings, on and on ad nauseam.
There, nightly to immerse ourselves up to our
armpits (over our heads) in filth and detritus, to
savour nuggets of inanity, (the television cannot
compete anymore, has had its day, given up the
ghost). And so to bed, to emerge blinking, Morlock-like,
maggot pale, slick with sweat, debilitated by
fever dreams colonised by digital succubi, into a
grey, dull and dreary hollow reality.
   A globe spanning monument to the pratfall,
the elevation of 'You've Been Framed' to an
international interdenominational hyper-church,
that holds us in its thrall, endlessly confirming
our mawkish addiction to bargain basement
entertainment, proof that we are indeed God's little
joke, cavorting in ever decreasing spastic circles,
until we collapse in floods of tears like overwrought
toddlers playing musical chairs, not understanding
the rules.
   We trade our real existence for an
impoverished virtual version, a second life, having
failed miserably in our first one, now offered a
second chance... Only to repeat all the mistakes, to
reinforce all of the stupid preconceptions that got us
into this predicament in the first place. Given the
opportunity to throw out all the rules and start again
(after all it is only make-believe), we build an
almost perfect analogue, doomed to play out the
same dismal roles under different titles. The virtual
communities we build mirror almost exactly the
ones we are so desperately trying to evade. We
fantasize an escape while entrenching ourselves
deeper and deeper.
   Trawling the net endlessly, seeking out
confirmation of our existence, finding surely
irrefutable proof on our websites, MySpaces.
YouTubes. Counting our friends (most we will never
actually meet) by numbers of hits received on them.
Whilst the technology of the global village enables
us access to a vast audience, we have nothing to
say, nothing to show, so we resort to what we can
all do with a certain amount of expertise - to make
inbeciles of ourselves. The bigger the fool, the
greater the audience. We have submitted so entirely
to the cult of celebrity, that we convince ourselves
that merely to appear on a remote screen is enough,
regardless of whether we are being applauded or
mocked. We have forced the technology that
promised to make us free, to chain us like a
neglected hound to the back of a truck, obliged to
run wherever it goes.
   The point of no return, of surrender to
futility is surely wayposted by the emergence of
Wikipedia, a 'democratic' encyclopedia, that allows,
or rather encourages, adjustments and amendments
to its entries, as it advertises on its web page:
'the free encyclopaedia that anyone can edit.'
That anyone, regardless of their competence can
post their modifications, is surely the very reason
why nothing on this site should be trusted, which
totally negates its purpose, yet it remains a credible
source of information, even though it resembles
nothing more than a game of Chinese whispers.
   The camera pulls out to reveal heaps of
reeking debris, stretching from horizon to horizon
We are adrift in an infinite lost property department.
We have seen everything, yet we still crave the
obscure. Horrors once hidden are now routine.
We scrabble even more frantically, searching further
afield, addicted to the freak show. Inured to the
most extreme images, we plough through them
relentlessly, daring ourselves onwards. No longer do
we have to press our faces against the newsagents
window to sneak a glimpse at the top shelf. Images
too raw and brutal for the newspapers are paraded
for our amusement, dangled temptingly in front of
us, it is all that we can do to avoid them, it is hardly
surprising that we happen upon them, with
frightening regularity, no matter how sophisticated
the safeguards appear, or how hard we try to
convince ourselves that we are not curious... And of
course, in the words of Marilyn Manson: 'When I
said we you know I meant me...'
   So when I have finished squeezing words
out of this stubborn machine, even though it is late,
and I am exhausted, I shall don my reeking
sackcloth and shuffle as usual, down that fetid
gaping maw that leads to, and join the
nightly refrain . . .
   'l cant look, I must look'. Is that...

Jake & Dinos Chapman website


  1. Oh bloody hell. What a read.
    Whilst I'm as guilty / dependent / grateful for it etc. as, well, anyone... I'm glad too I've lived a big chunk of my life in a pre-internet age. It's only just dawned on me how glad I am of that single fact. It feels as if at least we had some innocence and self-sufficiency once, that maybe we're not completely tainted...? We know what it was like *before* - and we were fine.

    1. Hard to believe that we could survive without being online, isn't it? The Net now feels like a global Village where we're all 'prisoners'no matter how much we claim to be free people rather than numbers...


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...