The Cyberpunk Paradox


It was not until Ecko has made his tribute to language that I finally understood what I used to call the Cyberpunk Paradox – that self-mutilation by cyberpunks incorporating electronically networked devices into their bodies. As cyberpunks revolt against Control in its digitally networked form, staying off the grid would appear to be a much more reasonable tactic than becoming part of it, let alone if this act requires any sort of self-mutilation.

(An excellent short explanation/definition of cyberpunk can be found here. The first characteristic is titled “Negative Impact of technology on humanity”).

I can think of two possible solutions to this paradox, the first being related to the Jujitsu of culture jammers:


“Jujitsu is the art of using the weight of the enemy against itself,” explains Filmmaker Craig Baldwin. “With corporations, sometimes the only way to beat them is not by brute force, but by symbolic agility” (citation taken from Culture Jamming 2.0). Personally, I’m not thrilled by this answer.

The second possible answer is what stands behind Ecko’s tribute to language: “I give myself up to language, anon, in a gift economy”. This total and unconditional [gift] surrender echoes Abraham’s binding of Isaac, echoes, I suppose, the symbolic sacrifice of Jesus. Ecko goes even further by cutting out his I and becoming anon, his sacrifice being a total gift through this erasure.


Cyberpunk Shootout 23, mitx maraude

Whoever witnesses those sacrifices, those surrenders and give ups, feels that by this act a great defying essence is created, the System becoming seriously threatened. I cannot put this process into words as it’s illogical. My admiration for the courage and determination of those intuitively illogically logicals who give themselves up to the System.


3 Responses to “The Cyberpunk Paradox”

  1. ecko4inc Says:

    I did this unit at university on so-called “virtual cultures.” It seems to me there is a (profitable) trend in the fetishisation of machines and cyber-technology, a new hope in the Internet by jaded Lefties as a tool of liberation, for a radical critique of the political economy of the sign.

    “Too abstract… or not abstract enough” write Deleuze and Guattari.

    While there is great potential for technology to be used against the State (the weblog, to nominate one example), the fundamental metaphysical relationship lies with the Word itself and the idea of “virtuality” made popular in films like the MAtrix, only serve to reinforce the privilege accorded to speech over writing, “keeping it real,” re-inaugurating the sovereign subject (speech) across space and time: control societies.

    To the realists… The virtual lies in the abstract, real without being actual. Daniel W. Smith’s Introduction to Deleuze’s “Essays: Critical and Clinical” is a wonderful exposition of this idea of a becoming in literature.

    There’s a lot to be said for the power of parody (see Cultural Parody Centre). Incipit parodia! Thus wrote herr Nietzsche… Its pretty goddam cool some of the stuff that crops up on Dejan’s site and your website. I am emale, a geek, compared to this stuff. It took me six months to work out what the RSS is (oh, its a proud, proud day). And maybe I’m just acting like a geek, sticking to what I know, labelling the Matrix of the cyberpunks (I’m referring to Craig Baldwin and other “shadowrunners” – not yourself or Dejan) as fetishists in a move analogous to Spivak’s labelling of Deleuze and Foucault as “fetishists” for similar uses of the “machine.”

    But you know what? Spivak is right – there is a danger of taking all this talk about “power” and “desiring machines” and making it work in the same old repititive politicking apparatus. History repeats itself – see the “Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon.”

    Without a look at the history behind the concepts and work of Deleuze, one riskes coming away with a facile interpretation, amenable to one’s own conservative and narcissistic agenda (well, I did anyway in the unit of “Virtual Cultures” … ow! Didn’t make too many new friends in the media and journalism faculty! Probably best to stick to what I know).

    Lacan once said that psychoanalysis can be like a ready-made delirium. Its like thinking Burroughs glorifies or condemns the use of heroin. His novels really have nothing to do with it whatsoever apart from its use as a sign. That’s what literature is about: metaphors. Sit venia verbo. To resign ourselves to the surface of things – those people I call deep: aesthetic – not ascetic – working by reason of feeling, not intelligence. But lets not take ourselves too seriously and label ourselves “stupid”… us, the mouse-people.

    Everyone has a fundamental right to stupidity. Thus spake Zarathustra.

    To the cyberpunks – “You have to ask yourself, punk” – I give the immortal words of Dirty Harry and Murakami… what kind of idea are you?

  2. muli koppel Says:

    (Herr is better than Mr. but you’re still highly addicted to Mr… even if you only use Nietzsche as a sign. )
    Parody – sure. a third answer – mostly related to culture jammers. But not to self-mutilating cyberpunks. I don’t buy self-mutilation as a good joke. You don’t cut the eye out for the fun of it.
    I think you mentioned once your doubts about all those books (in English) discussing the French dancers. I’ve never read these mediation books. I watch the dance, very slowly, word by word, and digest it for weeks, months. This philosophy is not to be mediated. The fight happens inside the text, if you’re not there it ain’t no fun at all. [This is, of course, a hell of a Parody, for if there’s no mediation then what am I doing here? I think I fight those texts here, instead of just inside my head]
    As for Spivak, Control, Desire and War Machines: I’m using the word fight in a misleading sense here: it’s not the fight against the bad guys a la cyberpunks [I find Baudrillard’ suggestion that the System makes the bad guys just as it makes the good guys very intuitive], nor is it a fight against the System a la matrix [I gave myself up to Language too]; rather it’s a fight against the Contingent as suggested by Foucault. It’s a never-ending personal fight that is echoed back into the System. The millions of us echoing our personal fight back into the System. And in many of those fight-times self-Parody is indeed a weapon, mocking at the time capsule, culturally jamming my own self.
    As usual, I’m not sure I understand you correctly; you’re not sure you understand me correctly, but it is exactly because of this misunderstanding that parts of the texts which make you Ecko – echo;

  3. Ronaldo Says:

    Hey, very interesting Blog! Added to my favs! =]

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