Violet Valley Plaza: collage by Stephen Pfohl

Cold Sunrise

Consider the writings of Kathy Acker, Stephen Pfohl and Jean Baudrillard: three definitive expressions of Roland Barthes’ The Pleasure of the Text with its focus on the “rustle of language,” the movement of writing from the outside of contemporary experience to that more elusive point where the urgency of writing, its continuously broken boundaries between public life and private autobiography, its experimental, highly original and always enigmatic openness conveys something very immediate, very tangible about the street of dystopian dreams that is the world today. When writing seizes the historical moment, when the language of theory commits to the greater heresy of actually telling the story of what it means to live in a body that is haunted by its own approaching requiem or what is implied by the cybernetic loop seemingly everywhere now between technocratic consciousness and the masochistic male imaginary, at that moment, we actually are in the presence of a form of thought that is fully anticipatory of what is to come in the 21st century. Writing at the end of the 19th century, Nietzsche correctly warned that the modern century would begin to live out the full consequences of the death of god. Acker, Pfohl and Baudrillard remind us that our fate may just be to live through the desolate, but still unknown, still unthought consequences, of the death of the human. That would make of these three prophetic theoretical statements powerful expressions of creative thought but also beautifully crafted eulogies years in advance concerning the quick, delirious slide of human complexity into the singularity of its technological replacements. If the future that is now is foreshadowed by the writings of “Requiem” and “Venus in Microsoft: Male Mas(s)ochism and Cybernetics,” that also implies that key trajectories of the times in which we live may already be in the grip of what Baudrillard describes as a “recurrent pattern of evil:” Not evil, “as suffering, as pain” but “rather, as negativity, as the diabolical nature of things when they are reversed into their opposite, so that they never reach their finality, nor even go beyond it and thus become, at that specific time, monstrous.”

Arthur and Marilouise Kroker, Editors

Original essays/original theory from the CJPST and CTheory

Kathy Acker, “Requiem,” CTheory, December 2nd, 1997.

Stephen Pfohl,  “Venus in Microsoft: Male Mas(s)chism and Cybernetics,” CTheory, January 18th, 1993.

Jean Baudrillard, Caroline Bayard and Graham Knight. “Vivisecting the 90s: An Interview with Jean Baudrillard,” CTheory, March 8th, 1995.