I think the state is largely irrelevant. I think the corporations are these international electronic organisms made of capital that operate transparently and invisibly, and it is probably their agenda which the planet is following. And I don’t say this conspiratorially—somebody’s running the world, and corporations are a logical force to follow on. The nation-state didn’t do a good job. I mean, the nation-state, for cryin’ out loud, brought us to the thermonuclear standoff, you know? Sony just wants to muck with your mind with weird commercials, but they don’t propose a thermonuclear exchange over commercial issues. And I think that nation-states valued war as an instrument of policy, and I think corporations find war horribly disruptive and expensive—I mean, not the corporations which sell armaments, but that’s a minority. One of the good things about being ruled by corporations is that, to do business, you have to have stability: you can’t have a bunch of crazy political ideologies or people busting up the infrastructure and all that. That’s a horrible interruption of business as usual.
See, all that’s holding together the illusion of the historical world is our inability to communicate with each other. Here is somebody over here. They are working on data encryption. Here is somebody who’s working on nanotechnology. Here’s starflight. Here, longevity. Here, cures for viral diseases. Well, none of these people talk to each other. None of them know of each other’s existence. And yet, one by one, they will arrive at their goals and this will all be fed together into a civilization that nobody is managing and nobody can imagine.
I think that the ultimate result of all this electronic technology is the literalizing of consciousness: that consciousness is coming into being. That’s why, you know—the 19th century had no industry equivalent to Hollywood. And Hollywood is a huge sector of the national economy, and what is it concerned with? It builds dreams, it peddles images. It’s entirely involved in the production of the imagination. And think of a company like Industrial Light and Magic: they’re not kidding! And when you look at their corporate ledger you understand they’re not kidding, and wish you had stock in it because Industrial Light and Magic is making very real money.
What we are doing at this moment is incredibly unnecessary and archaic. And we do it because it’s how we’ve always done it: gather together and talk. But, you know, Tim Leary had a wonderful saying back in the sixties; he said, “Find the others.” Find the others. Well, if you go onto the net, no matter what your concern is—you know, the restoration of south German harpsichords, or whatever it is—there are hundreds of people waiting to share their secrets with you, to passionately communicate with you, to draw you into a community. The net is a tremendous permission for eccentricity. You know, if you’re a 245-pound white male and you want to present yourself as a seven-year-old black girl who’s made a great victory over polio—hey, nobody can stop you from doing that on the net. On the net you are who you say you are. And all interest groups, no matter how peculiar and formerly insulated, can contact each other instantly. So the idea, the very notion, of orthodoxy is melting away. Freakery is the wave of the future. The bohemians knew it, the ’pataphysicians knew it, the dadaists knew it, the surrealists knew it, the hippies, even the zippies. Eccentricity and the empowerment of individuality is a paradoxical part of living in an electronic collectivity.
The machines are extensions of ourselves—not our hands, as the age of mechanical technology was, but they are literal extensions of our minds.