The bubble-dimension people are going to have to get used to
People are going to have to get used to the existence of a whole whirlpool of realities; people are going to have to get used to it positively storming reality; people are going to have to get used to getting swimming through the psychic realm without drowning entirely.
No one really has the language yet to describe the fragmentation of perspective that is beginning to unfold. Liberal democracy is designed to accommodate multiple "opinions" or even "points of view", but it's clear that what's happening now is beyond this.
People will say that the new "woke politics" are a religion. But in what sense? They give no meaning to suffering, no hope for transcendence, no belief in life after death, etc., which is traditionally what the attraction to religion is said to be. So what is the similarity? They're both things people believe in, I guess — although it's infamously impossible to define the written tenets of "woke politics", so maybe "woke politics" are not beliefs per se, but actions, declarations, mannerisms, gestures, ways-of-being, ways-of-becoming...
The first paradigm shift is that we need to start thinking of "cult" as 20th century language, outdated and inadequate.
Take Qanon — people will tell you Qanon is a cult, and that the Qanon followers are brainwashed. But how so? They were not emotionally manipulated by a smooth-talking sociopath into leaving their family behind and living in the woods, then given LSD for days on end, then kept in isolation while berated and reminded of all their faults, then forced to have sex with strangers for $2 an hour, etc. No, they were just reading a bunch of bullshit on the internet which resonated with them.
There is a language of destruction, of violence which comes into play when Qanon is discussed. Innocent people fell victim to it, they will say. It preys on the vulnerable. Having a family member get sucked in is devastating. It's spreading like an epidemic — who knows who will be the next person to have their mind infected and gutted by the virus?
Meanwhile, the Q believers are laughing, singing, dancing. They are not exploited, they are not descending deeper down some rhetorical tunnel, they are having the time of their lives. Even the fear and paranoia is enjoyed, like the fourth day of a meth bender.
The essential desiring-machine of Qanon is not hard to articulate. Q gives a beautiful story of a judgment day to come: Trump purges the deep state and finally starts fulfilling his promise to make America great again. So there is something wonderful to believe in. But the details are presented in riddles, giving the community much to discuss, unravel, investigate together. Now narrative-formation is not some somber litany; it's fun.
Qanon cannot be called a cult, nor can it be called psychotic in some medicalized sense. But it seems to draw an aura of danger — both for its intensity, and its distance. The Q believer starts ranting about Nancy Pelosi and two thousand sealed indictments, some story no one has heard of, yet he treats it as if it was the talk of the day on CNN. He's in a parallel universe, they say. The liberal, on the other hand, may have her days shot through with anxiety and nausea because she believes she only has fifteen years left to live due to global warming, but at least she is not "out over there", an inherently tragic place for the Q believer to be. He has swum out too far, we are all very worried, there may be sharks, come back here before it is too late.
But of course there is no "back here" to come back to — what even is left of consensus reality in 2021? Whatever we have, it seems just as frantic and agitated as the world of Q.
Now: this is what it's really like — we are all in bubbles, we are wearing bubble-shaped helmets. We strap these onto our head and see through them and we believe we are seeing reality. But reality outside the bubble is just an unshaped, imperceptible, chaotic mess. The bubble is what we know.
Or as Buum put it to me: "How do you know who gets into the kingdom of heaven? Is it what's in the orb floating above your head?". He presents the more ayurvedically accurate way to visualize the sphere in this metaphor: he refers to the crown chakra in which knowledge is configured and which indeed exists just above one's head.
The bubble, or crown chakra, sahasrara, includes a heads-up-display outlining primary objectives which guide the organism, and it is striped with bands which resonate at different frequencies to guide the organism to respond to social cues, libidinal energies felt in the body, new information, and so on. It also comes loaded with a bank of images that are streamed to the body in flashes of soft color upon preconfigured cues — in other words it contains a hallucinatory module.
It's impossible to define the components of the bubble, because the very question of how the bubble is componentized is a part of the bubble itself. In the past it was easy to say - "men have their religious views, their political views, and their taste in books" — this being the widely-shared meta-configuration of many bubbles. But now it is not so easy to describe all the ways in which we differ — for example, an ambiguous breaking-down and re-fusion of the "religious" and "political" components is an emerging norm.
When we meet other people, we cannot help but influence one another. Individual nodes on the two bubbles will seek electrostatic resonances and sync with one another from a distance in a jolt of lightning to achieve a mutual polarity.
But if too much collective alignment is reached, it is felt to be dangerous — especially if the shared configuration is one that is highly internally resonant, very intense, carrying a potentially great unleashing of force. Or if the change is too rapid. Manipulation, as in the standard cult narrative, may largely be a myth, or at least it may not be an act of cunning. It may rather be a natural process of a highly resonant configuration - mixed with a grunting lust - exerting a lopsided effect on something lacking sufficient internal coherence and charge.
Even the most sober of bubbles is still a delirium. Take the patient, sensible man who reads both the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, who tries to keep up to date with expert opinion on things, who believes that capitalism is the ideal system to improve the world at an appropriately moderate pace. His happy configuration is only kept in a stable humming resonance via a fantasy of a unified community of experts carrying perfectly accurate information to him from on high, singing sweetly like a choir of angels. This is a fantasy which tends to be shattered within most people who actually experience the chaotic process of, say, peer review. And there is also a visual, hallucinatory envelope to this fantasy, sustained by specific fonts, specific letterheads, specific outfits, specific shades of off-white. Would this convenient social arrangement collapse, and the fantasy dissipate, he would probably find himself not as sober as he believed. He would find his sobriety an illusion, valid only within the echoing interiority of a painted sphere.
So let's have no more talk about cults, or psychoses, but rather talk about bubbles emerging in collective reality, bubbles which now anyone can breathe into existence if they are intelligent or charismatic enough. There is no need to evoke gods, religion, mind control.
Bronze Age Pervert is probably the finest example of the new influencer: someone with a legion of explicitly devoted followers who has created not a cult, but a bubble, a helmet to wear. BAP tells you what to do, a mild marching order that crosses all the boundaries — perhaps, you will vote for Trump, you will believe in fascism in your heart but not publicly, you will work out, you will eat certain foods, you will believe in a vague sort of pagan spirituality best experienced in sport, and you will share in a collective fantasy snatched out of fashion mags, gazing admiringly (but not lustfully) over tanned nearly nude men relaxing on beaches — this is not merely a pleasant fantasy, but a source of true spiritual power, according to BAP.
BAP is an influencer, a lifestyle influencer, but an influencer on a far less superficial level than Kylie Jenner or what have you. He touches all the layers of the soul, just gently enough. So the question is: will more of the thousands of influencers of Instagram begin to take this leap, begin to discuss more than fashion? Will there be a whole ecosystem of pretty women jostling to whisper their electrical currents into your ear, triggering your synapses, reconfiguring your configuration? And how disorienting will this become — will we soon move back and forth between different bubbles of reality as quickly as we change our clothes?
Perhaps this September, I will be a revolutionary socialist, anti-China, ambivalent on USSR, technological optimist but against video games, who thinks it's okay to bully people in small doses, who thinks gender and the family should be destroyed but the Greek ethic of arete should be embraced as much as possible, who thinks you can trust random anon Twitter accounts over news sources, who is pro-intellectual snobbery but against "nerds", who doesn't believe in the human being as such, who upholds Marx as dogma but not the Marxist tradition per se (believing the various Marxists can be read in any order and anything can be creatively taken or rejected to fit the times), skeptical of art as pseudo-fascist, who thinks Hegel, Plato, and Kant were based but Nietzsche, Schopenhauer, and Heidegger are cringe (having not read any of them but a few pages here and there), who believes in most conspiracy theories, who is neutral on whether or not hierarchy in thought is okay, who thinks suffering is an inherent part of life and sadness should be embraced in its aesthetic profundity, who distrusts therapists, who doesn't actually expect revolution, who thinks history is cyclical and we might be in a state of decline, who does drugs but thinks LSD doesn't show you much more than a good time, who thinks religions are all false yet are also all proto-communist aspirations for a better existence and thus should be cultivated as objects of isolated contemplation (though certainly never used to organized society), who thinks trying hard in life is cringe, who is non-horny, who dresses trad with an ironic distance, who makes effeminate gestures while drunk but doesn't identify as queer, who thinks one should never strive to be "respectable" but one should avoid being "degenerate", who believes in being “uncool” but not “cringe”, who thinks our greatest hope for happiness in life is to embrace the reality of death but can't quite get there himself, and who visualizes all of this in a hallucinatory fantasy involving flowers: the only real sign we have of God's presence which we can put our faith in is the beauty of flowers, and in some, or perhaps all senses, one must emulate the flowers, become a flower oneself.
And what will I become in October? Any facet of the configuration can be an axis to spin upon. Perhaps I actually read Plato and take him out of the "based" category and throw him in "cringe". Perhaps this causes me to lose some faith in flowers — they can't be beheld as forms, rather they are natural phenomenon, expressions of some underlying force. Now I begin to believe in "science" suddenly, which brings to mind signifiers of outer space. I become a futurist, I stop dressing trad and wear mesh tanktops...
Or instead, maybe I spin upon the anti-China axis. Maybe I get sucked into reading about the Uyghurs and begin to become something of a neo-con. Now I am not a Marxist, which was something that all my other stances were psychically tied into. Casting away my former self, I begin to invert them all: I stop doing drugs, I start trusting therapists, I start praising Nietzsche (still without having have read him).
The point is that the conventional idea of how people naturally "change their mind" — through "facts", or rational argument, or so on, is an illusion of conventional liberal society. This has nothing to do with the cascading flow of internal re-configuration, in which a shift in feeling may cause you to reject several ideas, or a spatial shift in the layout of concepts might cause you to start going to the gym. It is more like a constant game of chess played with oneself and one's external inputs, or the glass bead game of Hesse.
This is because the notion of an isolated layer of arbitrated truth claims is itself a contingent feature of certain bubbles, certain configurations (and frankly, ones which are cringe). Even a distinction between truth and untruth is contingent; many of us are already well beyond it. Does the BAP acolyte really "believe in" nudist tropical white supremacy? When BAP gives him "esoteric knowledge" about sunning his balls or whatever, how does he receive it?
Discussions of irony or "post-irony" and so on tend to exhibit bewilderment and awe in those who are unable to understand the terrain. Of course, the notion that an ironic statement implies its opposite is completely false. Rather, irony is just a certain decoupling, the decoupling between seriousness and will, which has been revealed to be arbitrary and contingent. Many more decouplings are possible, all the way down to a cellular level if you wish. Even BAP has retained internal consistency, which will soon become a relic.
No bubble, no configuration can be said to exist hierarchically "above" another, for they all float on the same layer. I merely present my own configuration, and while conceptually it includes and subsumes eg. BAP's, it cannot be said to have conquered it, for any potential hierarchy I have presented is just an opposing configuration. Nor, in all probability, can there even be any conquest through time, through, say, the course of an individual's life. One may feel like one has moved "higher", to a more sophisticated bubble which subsumes one's past, but this judgment may only arise from an interior view. On the flat plane on which these bubbles float (Deleuze calls it the "plane of immanence"), one might in fact be tracing a great circle, or snaking around wildly, or oscillating back and forth.
We already know that configurations cannot be judged on their truth, for the idea of truth may or may not be present, but they cannot even be judged on their internal coherence. Rather, coherence is not desired, at least not in the sense of completion or satisfiability. Crucially, bubbles contain a blown-apart vista, a window open to things floating in from the chaos, primarily as a mist of delirium, butterflies drifting about in one's peripheral vision. For example: Marx's critics admonish him for not attempting to describe what would happen after the communist revolution. But leaving this window open was precisely his genius, or rather, it was necessary. Even the stable, unchanging, harmonic Christian configuration of medieval Europe could only exist with the afterlife held up in contrast as a vast open window.
Of course, this is the genius of Qanon as well. It's known that Q has the truth, but it's not known what Q actually believes; discovering this is a quest which may stretch into infinity. Likewise, followers of Bronze Age Pervert probably don't believe exactly what he says per se, they just know, or feel, that he gets it. But they don't even know what "it" is, which is precisely why they need to follow him. It is something to grope towards, as it can be dimily perceived somewhere behind a hazy veil of imagery, of male models, tigers, statues, birds, swords, muscles, softly lapping waves.
Does BAP know what it is? There is no reason why he should or needs to — otherwise the machine can reverberate with so much more force, achieve so much more velocity. If the creator resonates with his followers in their unknowing, they then can actually begin to launch, chart a course, try to get somewhere.
Every configuration has an it, has a point, in the sense of "What's the point of even being alive?" It is something the window looks out towards but never sees — other than in the shapes the leaves trace as they blow in zigzag arcs across the pane. The psychic vortexes that whirl around us are cones, with the apexes twenty, four hundred, perhaps one thousand feet above our heads.
The point may or may not be conceptualized as God, depending on the configuration. But GOD in his true form exists beyond all bubbles, beyond all configurations, as a point far off in the distance, perhaps infinitely far, which some cones are teetering top-like towards while others couldn't be farther off.
No truth, no hierarchy, no master signifier. But judgment day comes. Certain collective bubbles will resonate too rapidly, will burst and fall apart. Others will fail to even grow. And others will not resonate nearly intensely enough. But perhaps, some will chart a careful, gentle course, let the configuration evolve slowly and appropriately, resonate intensely only when it's wise, steadily grope like a submarine with half-blind eyes towards it, towards the light...
So for the time being, what can one do? Become a skilled navigator. Try to trot about as rapidly and efficiently as possible, be comfortable putting on a new configuration shift every day like a pair of pants. Or even decouple oneself as far as possible in advance, seek a maximum decoupling, become a gelatin-like mold fitting oneself snugly against the brick-like forms of the constructed ideologies, with a split-apart interface exposing ten thousand and one parameters. To go it alone is probably too dangerous, or even impossible. But to become an amoeba-like entity seeking out fertile soil, looking for the conditions of growth, the proper Ph balance, the right vibes... this very well may be the way.