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The Successor Theology Rising
Some Fragments of a Culture in Transition
I have to confess that the firehose of daily content with which I’ve been engaged online has overwhelmed my capacity to ingest and process the volatile emissions flooding the culture. I have a dozen drafts in various stages of readiness and have been struggling to bring any of them to completion. I do have to take some time to remove myself from the firehose and do nothing but think and write and produce the sustained argument and exposition that the ongoing coup requires. I have been promising for a long time to become much more prolific. It’s now incumbent on me to deliver.
Fortunately, I feel ready. The screenshots and videos collected here should convey that drinking from the firehose, being overcome by its force, has not been an idle preoccupation. It had to be done. For the disorientation and derangement that one encounters online is an encounter with a disoriented and deranging pseudo-reality that has steadily impinged on the reality that once encompassed it, but that is now being outflanked by it.
In the summer of 2020, we learned that the virtually networked fan fictions which have subsumed the fact gathering function of the media can turn a local tragedy into an international frenzy that sets our cities aflame. These derangements are incubated online and have the power to ensnare real children in their net and persuade them to inscribe the mindless copypasta of the age into their own flesh. They possess the power to do so by virtue of having first ensnared the medical and political and social welfare apparatus and made those institutions into their catspaw.
The process of institutional capture that needs describing began decades ago. But as the world closes in on the destination envisioned by the drafters of the Yogyakarta Principles, (about which I’ll have more to say soon) we are beginning to see the Long March through the institutions become a sudden sprint toward a kind of sexual singularity. The Queering of the Imperial Hegemon has begun in earnest. What was once a meme has become a fact and is seeking to become a collective destiny. Those of us who have been attending closely to this process know it. Others want it to be something peripheral, something silly, something that can be readily accommodated without undue burdens, or merely a “culture war” in the petty sense of the term. And of course it is all those things too, and will remain so for many. For many, life proceeds as before, even as the ongoing coup institutionalizes itself all around them, and the words they can say and the thoughts they can think grow constrained and bent from one day to the next.
I began assembling a few screenshots this evening and just kept going, marveling at both the multifariousness of the ongoing crush and its rigid underlying unity. Pasted into this document is my Twitter timeline from the last week and a half. Anyone can see these tweets on my timeline, so this is not a real post. But assembling them in a document helps us to reframe them as the building blocks of a synoptic picture of a bizarre present. The last week has felt like one that crystallized the shape of the oncoming frenzy. Anyone perusing these fragments of a culture in dramatic flux can begin to sketch out the outlines of a master narrative not yet written and indeed, not yet writable. That’s my task — but I’m also asking you to help me process it in the comments section. The images and videos collected here, a fraction of my burgeoning collection, is fodder for a dozen essays of various lengths in itself. The essays will answer snide questions (such as “Why Die On this Hill?”) seriously and treat half-facetious hypotheses — such as one framing the emergence of the Trans Kid as a nation-building project of internal colonization — with the half-facetious seriousness they deserve.
Everything is changing all at once. The change moves in lockstep, even as it summons up bewilderment, chagrin, and pushback. The pushback feels too little and too late — for what openly declares itself now can only do so by virtue of territory already captured and held while the rest of us slumbered. The captured territory encompasses institutions that have until recently been granted plenary power to decide such matters. They have put themselves on a cliff, with no precedent — and perhaps no capacity —for climbing down safely.
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