28 years into the end of history, we are experiencing eternal contemporaneity. What the recent times has assured with Mark Fisher’s declaration of the ‘slow cancellation of the future’ is the making-contemporary of what was 5 years ago can be considered as nostalgia.
Nostalgia does not exist anymore, 28 years into the end of history.
Renato Constantino did not help stop the flow of his feared ‘synthetic culture’ with his critique. His fault mainly lies on the assumption of an organic development, when, in the first place, culture, being a human invention, is already synthetic. What he helped clarified is that transnational capital’s synthetic culture brings in itself death of some sort. The end of history, however, championed under liberalism, guaranteed an extended life-span, albeit, not temporal, but spatial expansion. Transnational capital’s synthetic culture only initially focused on urban centers. It is only recently, 28 years into the end of history, that it expanded beyond urban centers. Post-crisis consumerists drunk with Zen of culture coming from all over the gaia- and cyber-space anoint themselves warriors of Apo Whang-od’s tribe by availing themselves a tattoo made by her. Citizens of the world aiming to be either archives of extinct cultures or necromancers of dead ones.
The jouissance of reliving the time has become a general encounter of everyday lives. From pop radio to franchise cinema. Kenneth Goldsmith’s cybernetic conceptualism will still insist on the critique of these than with attempts to break with novelty. Not that novelty has become impossible: with the rapid expansion of information technologies, more and more of the limits of ‘creation’ are being exposed: repurposing has become a general practice sans the subversion of intellectual property. Post-crisis cybernetics is a franchise, cyberpunk is a brand.
The lack of imagination beyond our time, beyond the end of history, has also set the limit of imagination of imperialism. Imperialism is still a spatial act: historico-temporal imperialism is yet to succeed. Which is why time-travel still fascinates us.
Time-travel, however, is yet to become science-fiction again.
Time-travel seems to fill our hauntological yearnings. As a plot device, time-travel seems to be the cure for a flawed denouement. To kill the tyrannical cabesa, in Babylon, to “correct” history; or as a turning point in Unli-Life. Time-travel has become a mechanism to ensure and reproduce the fantasy of historical singularity in favor of the end-of-history in the Philippines.
Reluctance to acknowledge contradictory forces, in the denial of actual complications in the construction of history, is but an effect of a declining and effacement of materialist conception of history. Time-travel, which has its most potential in dialectics, is becoming a senile reactionary tool of excuse for Zen cynicism. For psychopolitics. For capitalist realism. Time-travel, 28 years into the end of history, is just another experience of eternal contemporaneity.
Contemporaneity and psychopolitical immateriality supplements each other with the recent promotion of psychologism. Best reflected in the experience of Okabe Rintaro of a million time-leaps looking for the right time line to save everyone. It can be easily reduced that the struggle itself by Rintaro for confronting time is not historical, but personal-affective-psychological. His multiple time-leaps is accompanied by his flowing in and out of the channels of Akihabara – jouissance-machine par excellence. While moving in time, albeit only hours and days ago, Okabe is assured by the contemporaneity of the glow of idol cafe, strips of electronics stores, and busy people passing through.
Eternal contemporaneity’s greatest symptom can be found yet again in a flow — rather, a wave. Flowing from Imperialist America’s greatest ally in the far east, Hallyu crashed into the shores of the world, with everywhere it touched decayed into extreme consumerism.
A friend of mine reacted some months ago: “I hate the K-Pop of today. They seem fake.” Little did he realize that it is this syntheticity which brought Hallyu to its height. We are engrossed of the images of impossible gloss of hypersexed conservatives, hyper-kinetic dances and beats which haunts us with a lot of familiarity. None of these are comfort in strangeness but a welcoming overfamiliarity and attractiveness. Our contradictions and guilt packaged as a huggie doll. K-pop is the great jouissance.
As a tool for the retention of eternal contemporaneity, k-pop reassures. Kept within the confines of the acceptable, your desires are fine. You can desire the attractive humans whom you can see dance but they are too good to be yours. They are at best seen at a distance, with the pain of reflexively understanding all these. You listen to them be edgy, but not too edgy. Mandatorily, one of the tracks on the mini-EP has moderate tempo. Mix of influences assures your desired multiplicity: you can now experience them all in one. They make you want to die, but never to the point of death. They keep you at ease, and they keep you busy. They keep us safe of our guilt of desire by assuring that these are just all entertainment: they after all sing of love while they themselves are not allowed to experience love at all.
Unlike other forms of jouissance, K-pop relieves you from death drive. The accelerationist mode of escape, towards collapse — supposedly to flow both from the synapses to the fiber optic cables — is being halted by the Hallyu. Hallyu is the present’s attack to the rest of time: against Landian schizoanalysis and sino-futurism, is the Silicon Valley backed Korean capital. This does not bring capitalism into a collapse. Nor does Hallyu bring the corporate scientific utopia in this third world nation. It’s effect is in reverse: the revival of culture industry and its vitalism against the allure of escape and death.
The only reason why the function Duterte-China remains on the sidelines of the imperialist equation is this apparent imperialist move by US-South Korea’s world media system. Both favors however, the retention of the templexitous tendency of the Duterte administration to perfect the dreams of Marcosian Maharlika: the autocratic nationalism favoring neoliberal economics. A project which was started in the aftermath of the 1986 EDSA Drama. (Recent accelerations in crisis will soon result to the completion of Greater East Asia’s imperialist triage: Duterte bootlicking imperialist US-S.Korea-China).
Eternal contemporaneity makes materialism appear passe. Psychopolitics assume such immateriality: since labor is automated, none of digital processes are material — as far as humans are concerned. K-pop falls into this logic too, of immateriality : that is, K-pop exists as if always-already in the realm of the imaginary. Beyond meanings, K-pop bear with it an un-human experience of the image. Songs are mere vectors: none of them are lived. K-pop has been the result of desires psychopolitically processed through automation. Which is why it is so calculated and familiar: we already imagined and desired them somewhere.
The ‘decline of symbolic efficiency’ of postmodernism brought to us the re-intensification of imaginary constructs. K-pop brings us back to our mirror phases: to see again an image of the self we don’t know and we don’t acknowledge, but never get rid of since the imaginary is all we know. Images in eternal contemporaneity also reflects life as such: life without resolve. A vitalism without a path. A condition of mere existing. It sees conflict not as a movement but a mode of existence. Which is why Philippine romance post-K-pop mostly concludes with unresolved hang-ups and what-ifs. Hugot exists in the same vectoral manner as k-pop on which none is lived. Eternal contemporaneity brings an embarrassment to speculative thought: of merely thinking speculatively about banal things.
The word lies, 28 years into the end of history. K to 12 education brought up cyborgs which process words on their personalized softwares. Favoring immanent lexical reduction, everything is an opinion. The decline of the word brought about the a signification without a signified. One student has said of a poem: “the lines have deeper meaning, which would be based on your own interpretation.” Eternal contemporaneity brought about the birth of non-hermeneutics. Semiotic machine has failed. The assemblage are just informatic machines which processes on definite algorithm of indefiniteness. K to 12 education is a producer of non-cynics: doubters without an object of doubt. A troubled mind fueled by Born again christian inner peace and mental health campaigns.
28 years into the end of history, eternal contemporaneity is templexity in the form of Zen mantra. History, 28 years into the end of history, appears as if it is in peace with itself: the resolved conflict, the triumph of liberalism, at last found its inner peace. We are not back in the age of 80s new age and 90s alien hoaxes and early internet conspiracy theories: we never left them.