We believe their aim is to (re)militarise time, to make it politically explosive. This stance opposes Ministry policy.

Three blue-green silhouetted people, seen from behind, reach towards a red sun in a purple sky.

Content warning: references to state violence/repression


Bureau: Interior Ministry

Internal Communiqué

Threat Level: Meridian

We have intercepted this document relating to a new insurgent organisation, which details their critique of emerging trends and associated groups. We believe their aim is to (re)militarise time, to make it politically explosive. This stance opposes Ministry policy on the management of temporality, and threatens to disrupt stasis in the city.

The authors are unknown, presumably group-authored. The text was seized during a raid on an unsanctioned underground publishing house. The publishers were unable to provide intel on the authors, even under significant duress.

The following is our analysis of the text, seeking to ascertain the motives and methods of the group.

Excerpt one:

There are two kinds of abdication of the present:

Surrendering it to the so-called necessity of the past.

Submitting the possibilities of the present to the so-called agency of the future.

The first category is easy to spot. The Hauntologists are one instance of this, haunted by the spectre of past futures. Disillusioned, Hauntologists conjure aesthetics and images from a past in which they were not even present. Clad in silver and chrome and dreamlike mascara, they look like pop stars, reducing themselves to pure aesthetic. They’re young and powerless—may as well look pretty. Who hasn’t seen the strung-out ghosts, stalking the malls after dark, repressing their unspoken technicolour trauma? Only empty nostalgia remains. Sensing what’s wrong with the present, but never able to live outside it. Their escape is sold and packaged to them, and even in their desperate timesickness, they’ve become just another marketable demographic.

More cynical in their disposition are the Half-Lifers. Wage labourers by day, suited and tied, greyscaled. Their meagre disposable income affords them technical apparatuses and psychoactive substances which allow them to negate and escape the present virtually—but not actually.

Arriving home, they shed their white noise uniformity, throwing on a microwaved meal—scalding hot on the rim, lukewarm at its centre, just as usual. They plug their bodies into the server, rejecting their legal name for a virtual login, trading their physical body for a customisable avatar, to spend the hours they earned at the office at double cost in the net-scape sensorium.

Here’s one pitiful example:

My boss has no idea what I do on here, I can b.s. my way through my cushy job and kick back on the net. I could go on like this forever.

Like the Diogenes of cyberspace, they cynically defy Alexander as he rules them indifferently. They mistake the form of their subjugation as their freedom. Their managers do the very same, escaping the ire of their own bosses in an infinite chain. Of course, the servers are run by the same corps that their denizens think they are defying. There is nothing outside the market to escape to, only endless alternatives of the same, the mere semblance of aristocratic leisure.

The Hauntologists deny the world, closing their eyes and moving to their ethereal synthesisers, fae vocal sounds and slow-motion drum machines. The Half-Lifers keep one foot in it, living out a half-existence, meted out by the clock.

The author’s assessment aligns with Ministry policy—these groups are considered low-risk.

Later, the document turns to critique the more fringe and dangerous second category:

There is a coin. If the Hauntologists and the Half-Lifers who consign the present to the necessity of the past are the obverse, then the reverse are the Messianics. Unlike the Hauntologists or Half-Lifers, who form part of our visible city and are familiar to all, these groups simmer in obscurity, forming undercurrents accessible only to a select few. There are practising members at all levels of society. Dissatisfied, transcendent Messianics hope that their chains will be shattered by the arrival of an alien future.

Some groups envision their messiah emerging from technology. If you scroll to the fringes  of public technology forums, say the right names, give the right impression, and you may be invited to join an inner chatroom of one such group—the Silicon Mind. Contra the state and corps in which their members resentfully labour, the Silicon Mind hypothesise that technology, which today is merely a network of surveillance organs and profit optimisers, will one day realise its innate teleology and autonomously converge into a superintelligence, seizing control from its human originators and transfiguring the world into a prismatic utopia of light and information. Progress completed, the Silicon Minders long to expel their humanity and give themselves to the singularity. They believe nothing can or should be done to alter the current conditions—the trajectory is set and the arrival is inevitable.

Some members, monitoring the networks religiously, speculate that the process is already underway:

KyberWave: Did you see the blackouts in the eastern district last night? I swear the infrastructure is starting to become autonomously active - intelligence is imminent, my friends.

Anon61235k: convergence is next. i’d give it four months, tops. inb4 we surf the wave

Note: The outage referenced here was part of a contraband crackdown operation. Unintended misinformation is shown to be effective and should be exploited further—consider incorporating into standard practice.

Naive on two counts: first, that this singularity will arrive and that it will be its own benevolent master. Second, that the superintelligence will have any interest in preserving their existence, beyond merely as fuel for its own productive ends. Pure egotism, to think that this superintelligence would lower itself to them, when they don’t even bother with other humans of this city who they deem as inferior. A Silicon Minder’s carbon might be better spent fabricating microchips than wasting away on the forums.

In stark contrast to these motherboard idealists, the cult known as Angelus Novus know modernity to be one great process of collapse and fragmentation, relishing every catastrophe as another sign of modernity’s self-abnegation. If you want, follow the chalk markings found in back alleys and sewers, wherever garbage is kept along with the other refuse of the city, and you’ll find the acolytes and disciples of this doomsday cult around flaming barrels and the stench of rot. They please themselves studying old witchcraft, correlating structures of the city with the stellar structures of the heavens, to find the inevitable conclusion: all will be dissimilated. Shattered.

The Ministry miscategorises Angelus Novus as a terrorist organisation, conducting raids on their cryptic meetings. This intervention is unnecessary—they have no plans or strategies. If the authorities studied their ideology, they would understand that the cult’s practices deny the power of human intervention. To them, time need only be bided.

Note: Angelus has the means to threaten order, and will be treated as such. No review of strategy is necessary.

Angelus Novus synthesises their collapse-theory from a precise sense of the present, but they muddy it with Aztec doomsday prophecy, Renaissance alchemy and demonology. They align the movements of the stock market with astronomical charts and overlay city blueprints with sacred geometries, searching desperately for signs. All kitted out, prepped for earthly collapse, they stash tinned foods and military-grade weapons—which they have no use for in the present. Their tools gather dust while Angelus Novus awaits the future. All of history stands only as a prelude.

The result has an ultimately incoherent form, whose shape is too rough, polluted and paranoid to be of any use.

Angelus has mistaken the Ministry’s past tactical concessions as yet more signs of collapse. This suggests that they have no means of discriminating between what is actually collapsing and what merely has the semblance of collapse.

The authors now make clear their own intentions:

We all recognise that life is wrong in the present.
This city seems eternal and unchanging.
We deny this.
The divine of right kings was thought eternal, until it was unmade.
This city cannot monopolise time.
There was time before it, and there will be time after it.

On every street, past and future interweave, producing schism with the present.
The Hauntologists are a symptom: the past is lingering because the present is lacking. If only they turned their melancholy outwards to find its cause.
The Half-Lifers feel it too—but they repress it. They’ve been seduced.
Silicon Minders search for a future, but misplace it in a deluded dream.
Angelus are right to see the present as a catastrophe, but they are too presumptuous—this hollow moment will persist and reproduce itself unless we intervene.
Their anticipatory theology must become avowed anthropology.

Our saviour cannot come from the outside: there is no outside and there is no saviour.
We are in the present. It cannot be denied.
The past has been given to us, but it need not be repeated.
The future is contingent, but it must be made in the now.

The construction of a “defective” chronology goes against the accepted model of static time, and threatens to spark political dissidence, exposing the facile nature of imagined futures and nostalgic pasts. We recommend the further proliferation of these anodyne chrono-ideologies in order to combat their efforts.

The authors will be traced and removed from the city.

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