Johanna Drucker

Predatory Media

Live feed is always hungry, devours ceaselessly, until the flows into its source text manufacture the condition of complicit consent. Mediation was never a one-way activity, not an exchange between stable static objects and active users, but a two-way system of mutual consumption. The mediating condition allowed absorption, controlled it, and triumphed—not through will, nor sentience, or deterministic mechanisms, but through the sheer capacity for making attention into an addiction that feeds from its own demise.  
            Distributed throughout a virtual territory of transmitting nodes that sucked the current of attention through the participating nodal entities, creating fatal alignment, loss looked like devastation, bodies wrecked, minds numbed, energies exhausted and tapped out. But only the sheer power of cathexis generated its own fields, increasing the potency of mediation.
            The surveillant mechanisms devoured their objects, did not merely monitor them for data derivatives or exchange value to be traded in the commodity markets of avatar offerings. The force of predation amplified. The capacity to extract will became an entry point for the grabbers, they went in and took hold, parasitic organisms feeding on attention, which was the focused form of thought-life. The notion of a vital energy driving through the living organisms became a reality in the way the suction procedures sought their prey. The human mind, in its jelly juice wetness, could not withstand the pressures.
            The predators thrived on the affective fields generated by participation at a scale unimaginable in early populations. Masses have a velocity, as well as a spin, and the physics of transaction rates produced their own currency. Predatory media, all-consuming, swarm on the waves of aetheric tides, colonizing the networked nodes that imagined themselves distinct. Boundaries dissolve. Turns out, bodies were no protection against the membrane-loss of mind. Entities absorbed into processes become mere events in the massively consuming takeover that produces awareness as its subject. The cycles of appropriation are constantly renewed. The invasive appetite of the predator feeds on the exchange with a massive asymmetry of power.

Quantum Linguistics

Rapid acceleration of the text consumption-composition cycle at the nano-scale is transforming textual phenomena in unprecedented ways. The observation of non-linear processes affecting linguistic variables has created an intervention feedback loop with unpredictable behaviors and unforeseen outcomes. Global word shortages are predicted. Vocabulary shortfalls, combined with vocalic supply chain breakdowns and private market controls on the text stream, threaten to destabilize the world language system.
            Recent research has now demonstrated unequivocally that at the atomic level of sub-morphemic units and accelerated production, the mechanistic description of textual operation does not hold. This discovery was predicted almost a century ago, in the same period as the analysis of other physical phenomena, but proof of the concepts remained elusive until the design of the high-speed syntax collider at Livermore. The use of a long-tube radiant fractal machine has allowed verb trace trails and noun patterns to be tracked in real time, even as free radical prefix and suffix units have been detected in random trajectories. The sub-atomic analysis of morphemic units, once believed to be indivisible, shows that the bonds creating coherence are unable to hold at the level of what was once thought to be deep syntax, now shown to be a black hole at the center of the linguistic field.
            One of the most profound discoveries is that the mirror function of language appears to be breaking down. The generation of pathological speech forms is aligned with new narcissistic disorders making their way through the body politic. The intensification of the capital A into a grand illusion-machine and the inability to connect any of the linguistic particles with a stable entity recognition is further evidence of the rapid decay of social language practice.
            Meme shadows, once dismissed as mere hallucination, have been trapped in laboratory conditions that resemble those of the broad public sphere. The lab teams have shown definitively that the forward trajectory of these automatic shifts is creating a wave-particle confusion at the level of ancient grammars. Formerly imagined unchangeable, this substrate level has become unstable. Semantic leaps unthinkable a few years ago are now marked in the lexical and indexical registers. The pace of change is accelerating rapidly.
            The most recent findings, presented at the Congrès International de Linguistique Subatomique, were met with considerable alarm. The dissolution of the core language layer is marked in every area of global discourse. The inability of processor units to maintain linguistic equilibrium has become marked as the observations of quantum linguistic phenomena take an upwardly mobile path through the social economy of language use. The future is already upon us, with nuclear disintegration of the molecular integrity of the linguistic fabric now deemed inevitable. Expect mute zones to increase.

Johanna Drucker is an artist and scholar known for her work on visual poetics, the history of the alphabet, graphic design, digital humanities, and experimental literature. Her most recent titles include The General Theory of Social Relativity (The Elephants, 2018), DownDrift: A Novel (Three Rooms Press, 2018), Iliazd: Meta-biography of a Modernist (John Hopkins University Press, 2020) and Inventing the Alphabet (University of Chicago Press, 2022). She is based in Los Angeles. 

Back to. the poetry section, issue no. eight

Founded in 2020, Three Fold is an independent quarterly based in Detroit that presents exploratory points of view on arts, culture, and society in addition to original works in various media, including visual art, literature, film and the performing arts. We solicit and commission contributions from artists, writers, and activists around the world. Three Fold is a publication of Trinosophes Projects, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization located in the historic Eastern Market neighborhood in downtown Detroit. Click here to check out Three Fold’s events page and view a schedule of the publication’s on-site activities.

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