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Dark Euphoria Notes (Recap)

A recap ofDark Euphoria, for quicker reference.

“Dark Euphoria” is Sterling’s terms for the twenty-teens (meant poetically, not that it will stop next year). Dark Euphoria is an opening of the probability space that has a flavor of dread. In the original post I speculated that the main mechanism is chronic institutional failure and the democratization of information gatekeeping, borrowing from Martin Gurri.

The global, generational narrative since 2009 has been about institutions becoming sclerotic, captured, or stillborn- Crisis Capitalism among the old and rich, and Development without Progress among the emerging semi-poor.

Two cultural sensibilities develop as analogue technologies decay without adequate funding, and digital technologies struggle to fill the gaps: Gothic High Tech and Favela Chic.

Gothic High Tech is high-technology (especially analogue) in decay, often becoming graveyards or monuments without their full intended capabilities, eventually perhaps being repurposed and downcycled into museums or public spaces or curious, mountainous scrap. “The European cultural experience becomes a global experience.” There is a strong attraction to “acting dead”, and cargo-culting the behaviors and processes that may keep the illusion that the machinery and institutions in this scene are working.

By contrast, Favela Chic is digitization without infrastructure, a cacophony of hacks and quick fixes, impermanent, forever in beta. Not insurable, no inspections, no regulations, no titles. Adherents of the Favela Chic aesthetic may be flailing about in a less-predictable world, but at least they aren’t acting dead.

On one hand there is a consciousness that something isn’t working in the story about how we should live; on the other, there is a calculated understanding that the institutions perpetuating this story are the best we have for now, and need to struggle along for longer. The egregore is gambling that a better future might come along with enough effort and hope.

The Favela Chic aesthetic favors rapid experimentation, but everything decays quickly. The Gothic High Tech aesthetic favors conservatism, but it is losing with slow certainty.

So normalcy is manufactured by our heroic millennials, and would-be heroes are fed the koolaid that improve odds of success as they martyr themselves and their energy in service of innovating society out of the rut.

Weirding is uncomfortable and can be traumatic.

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