A constant barrage of information cascades across the screens we bring everywhere, so anywhere we go we can know what’s happening around us: all the updates, all the news, all the views of doom — that non-stop show, spastic, critical, monumental. We can hardly stop watching, can’t help but want to see what’s up. So we scroll down the feeds & streams of now where every ‘like’ counts. But nothing adds up. The LED light beams into our glazed-over eyes, always scanning the space of time, the ever-receding future horizon that never arrives.

Collectively we produce the mirages of worlds we’re unable to inhabit.

The word ‘spectacular’ can be used to describe a thing to behold, like an extraordinary exhibition, pageant, or show. I am shown a spectacle, at a distance, and I am entertained by it as long as I am comfortable in my role as spectator. I go to a market to buy what is available, and I am satisfied by my purchases as long as I am comfortable in my role as consumer. But I might not be so comfortable with the spectacular society or the commodity relation — because I read about its characteristics, or I realised it intuitively, or one day I just started feeling a heavy weight flattening all my desires beneath this shadow.


The great accumulation of spectacles has created this world where almost any experience or perception can be commodified. Even the critical perspective of the spectacle. Any real meaningful movement can be captured for representation, and any idea of what is real can be revealed as a fragment of a simulation, and all of this can just seem like a lot of mystic bullshit. ‘Che Guevara’ becomes a brand for cigarettes and ‘Bob Marley’ becomes a brand for marijuana — because revolution is just that word ‘revolution’ & its associated imagery.

The word ‘atrophy’ can be used to signify a decay specific to living matter, as in a biological process. When an organ goes unused or gets injured or falls ill, it often loses its functionality. It might even cripple a whole ecosystem. In terms of a social body, or a social network, I can imagine the atrophying of a dysfunctional node that sparks a decomposition of constituent parts, an unraveling out of control, spiralling inward from the system’s edges to its absent centre. Atrophy might be a catalyst for disruption of the flow of creative destruction, a glitch that spreads like mould.


The words ‘spectacular atrophy’ are written to take note of how horrible civilisation can look in this phase of its development\decay and, more importantly, to give us a theme to reflect on as we create or engage with symbolic systems and worldviews. It begins with wondering what survives of us after we, who are now here, are no longer; what might remain of now after its representations waste away; how an organism dies to be reconstituted in different forms of life.


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