TOWARDS A DIGITAL SUBLIME / The L’Oreal Test-Rabbit Manifesto

What are we to do with the information of the modern world? Flying through us like sun neutrinos a billion bytes a minute. Van Eyck had eyes like microscopes and telescopes all at once, and I feel sorry for him, for that is the modern predicament. We have eyes in Tangiers, ears in the hillsides of Lebanon, feet in the docklands of Beirut, hands doing nothing. Visions from the past, the present, the future, it makes no difference anymore, as some port-storage explodes 10,000 times a day on YouTube. How can we call all of this divine?

God diffused through all the visible world.” God is on Snapchat, on Grindr, on the DowJones. God is the internet ads, the spam e-mails, the endless paper pamphlets peddling couches and brusselsprouts sale. God is the wastelands of websites, blogs, e-shops deserted; the stellar wastelands, starfactories that ran out of hydrogen, lightyears of skidrow across this galaxy and the next ad infinitum. The divine is a debut novel, not very good but incredibly long.

How can the artist process infinite information? Without being overwhelmed, made redundant, consumed by the sludge of the information age? This psychic cholesterol. What Ark will save us from the deluge?

For many, Goldman Sachs is their Ark, or Facebook, or the Yamaha motorcycle/saxophone company. But for us, the Ark is our bodies and minds, our biological systems — they will need to be light and buoyant and stripped down so they float.

We must free them from market forces trying to pull us under. To protect our attention like a jewel from Chauvet. Excavate our souls of the endless advertisements, insecurities, avoidant behaviors catered to by a cloud conglomerate.

We must learn time-management skills, steer our attention with purpose and gusto, recognize the pitfalls and tripwires that litter digital and consumer space. (for “real adulthood is an intensely hard-won glory”) Learn how our bodies and brains work so we can fight against their misuse. We must do the non-algorithmic thing, throw probability (throw ourselves!) off this freight-trawler filled with $1 shoes.

We must floss regularly, even if it’s just one tooth. Get vaccinated for rabies and quit smoking as soon as we can. Eat a high-protein breakfast even when we don’t feel like it. Paint when we don’t feel like it. Galvanize our nervous system against the news. Drag our emotions back down to the ground.

We must cultivate true friendships, nurture those around us, and not look at our phones for days or weeks or years on end. We must look at the world from the deck-planks of a disciplined practice, a community of L’Oreal test-rabbits, sails gleaming a sparkling white. We must harvest the internet, not the other way around. We must harvest history, the workings of the world, winds of change far greater than Al-Jazeera. Come to grips with Dynamic Systems Theory. Find a good therapist and never be late. Join alcoholics anonymous preemptively.

Sure, a digital oil-slick covers the world, but the ocean beneath is as deep as ever.