During the decline of the Middle Ages, the irreversible time which invades society is experienced by the consciousness attached to the ancient order in the form of an obsession with death. This is the melancholy of the demise of a world, the last world where the security of myth still counterpoised history, and for this melancholy everything worldly moves only toward corruption.
In days gone by, tedious obligations were registered by individuals as an unremitting present state of inescapable tasks which stretched oppressively into both the past and the future.The individual’s sense of tedium was activitated within his or her fragmented involvement in those dominant and unchanging features which were essential to the production of the then present state of things – and upon which the individual was wholly dependent. In other words, tedium was a subjective response to the particular historical form taken in settling the question of survival.
Tedium supposed a powerless dependence on the one side and a process of unrelenting accumulation of materials on the other. However, this began to change with the industrial revolution which originated a qualitively different object of tedium.
From the outset, individual awareness within mechanised cultural environment, has developed in sympathy, or has become habituated to, the unrelenting machine rhythms which now define present existence.
In the exuberant life of the Italian cities, in the art of the festival, life is experienced as enjoyment of the passage of time. But this enjoyment of passage is itself a passing enjoyment.
Where, in the past, any interruption of the unrelenting passing of the days was seized upon as a release and converted into festival, thus indicating a fundamental alienation between awareness and the world, the opposite reaction is increasingly to be noted in the present.
Today, any disruption to the totalised rhythmic suck of all things is more likely to provoke anger than relief. The sudden separation of an cognition that is addictively integrated, even submerged, into the machine’s turn-over induces a form of disorientated shock.
The arcades and interiors are residues of a dream world. The utilization of dream elements in waking is a textbook example of dialectical thought. Hence dialectical thought is the organ of historical awakening.
The recent and peculiarly hypnotised sympathy felt by individuals for machines, which involves a loss of the self, a loss of the hours, is often remarked upon in internet use, computer games, mobile telephones, car driving, even within automated work activity.
The individual is consumed in the hours that seem like minutes which are passed in front of screens. This is significant to the extent that critical awareness is thereby attenuated, and supplanted by a condition of decisionless browsing. For the duration, the self is suspended in apparently timeless states that continually lengthen and deepen.
Machine-induced reverie, where tedium might otherwise be expected, has encroached upon the historical capacity for critique of conditions. Therefore, technological singularity can be understood as the host environment’s interference in the capacity to refuse it... the very definition of over-adaptation and addiction.
Historically, critical consiciousness, which implies a human capacity to decide against its earlier social forms, has had its day, and is just now passing from human existence: the clock-watcher has melted into the clock. The necessarily complicated emotional sensitisations required by critique are now too awkardly unfamiliar, too tedious to bear, and as such are no longer historically viable.
Mass identification with machine rhythm has caused anything unprocessed to be registered as anaphylactically intolerable. Thus, where the object of tedium was once registered in the unrelenting pressure of a time undisturbed by identifiable events, in the present this has been reversed and tedium is induced by those interruptive events not anticipated by satnav or Siri. Distraction has swopped places historically with absorption.
Where tedium was once located in an unchallengeable processive dominion, now it is identified with the expected but failed internal connections within the processive environment. Protest against conditions is registered as more tediously annoying than the conditions themselves.
The delight of the urban poet is love not at first sight, but at last sight. It is a farewell forever which coincides in the poem with the moment of enchantment.
Supplementary note on the technological inhibition of interruptive messages.
Machines of ultra-integration seek to function organically, their operational goal is that of a flow within which they disappear as into nature. Where there are facillitated processive slowings and speedings, the autonomic environment does not tolerate insertions of the external world into its immersive ideal. In their optimised processive state, the outputs of integrational technologies are most predictable and most responsive, to strategy and logistics. They are mapped onto a territory that stretches out in all directions, and onto a territory that does not yet exist beyond its map.
Smooth flow, steady state, modulation, homeostasis, endless duration – these are the motifs of the addicted modes of in-itself consciousness that are being generated by the rhythms of user-responding technologies. Interactivity is thus only the filling in of the territory in accordance with its map.
Therefore, the incomprehension, consternation and outrage that greets any pile-up, snag, or interruption of the floating and dreamlike integration of all things becomes a sort of unlooked for waking into ‘dialectics’... The dreamer emerges unrefreshed, startled, reluctant.
On the contrary, it is millenarianism, revolutionary class struggle speaking the language of religion for the last time, which is already a modern revolutionary tendency that as yet lacks the consciousness that it is only historical.
And the historicist urge, this too must pass. The historical also, fades. Outside of the interactive environment the individual staggers as if under an alien gravity. That regretful sense upon emergence of all that will be missed. Its reluctant gait as it drags itself away. It is bereft. It frets at its loss of immersal and what it will miss whilst it is away. The in-box stacking up.
How heavy and unresponsive seem its limbs, how slovenly its cognitions; how draining it must be to slow the car, to wait on the phone, to stand for a train. The post-historical ideal becomes, never having to wait again.
On errands of life, these letters speed to death.
The movement of time out of history, always flowing in long series of progressions, has left behind it the capacity to positively imagine a moment of interruption. The past, that is the ground for the capacity to relate otherwise, is being remapped as an archive that may be retrieved but never reached.
The contemplation of the loss all this becomes like a ball game of childhood in which it is counted how many times the ball is thrown and caught without it being dropped – and the children become more fraught as the total rises into the tens, and then the hundreds. And their throwing becomes more conservative and their catching more tense.