|Cybernetic culture research unit|
The A-Death Phenomenon
Has death itself become a telecommodity? A dark-tide of scare-stories and morbid rumour increasingly suggests so. By the late 90s Leary's psychedelic utopianism seems to have contracted to the nihilistic slogan 'Turn-on to tune-out' (to cite a recent release by Catajungle outfit Xxignal) ... this ain't Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll no more.
According to Doug Frushlee, spokesman for the Christian Coalition for Natural Mortality: 'The so-called A-Death menace is an almost unimaginable desecration of divine and natural law. This craze is an abomination without parallel, it trades on its intrinsic lethality, and it's growing incredibly fast. No one can say it isn't dangerous. Something truly evil is happening to our youngsters, something beyond 60s 666uality ... I've never been as frightened as I am now.'
The result is an entire jungle of 'positive-zero' fugues: Thanatechnics, Sarkolepsy, Snuff-Stims, K-Zombification, Electrovampirism, Necronomics, Cthelllectronics ... Nine million ways to die.
A-Death is a hybrid product, involving convergences between at least four distinct lines of rapid technocultural transformation. A-Death combines 'micropause abuse' - deliberately reversed biotechmnesis - with immersion-coma time aberrances, generating, modulating, and rescaling sentience-holes (Sarkon-lapses). These are toned by 'Synatives' (artificial drugs) which add zone-texture, and spliced into hyperstition trances as occultural events.Social statistics indicate that the typical A-Death 'user' is fifteen years old.
Following the most ominous threads of A-Death reportage takes you inexorably down into the digital underworld of the Crypt - the dark-twin of the net - where gibsonian 'flatlining' is rapidly transmuting from exotic fiction into pop-cult and mass-transit system. 'You could describe it as the route to contemporary shamanism' suggest A-Death cultists of the cybergoth Late Abortion Club, 'after all, AOL spells Loa backwards, but we call ourselves postvitalists.'
How long have the Late Abortionists been 'active' on the A-Death scene? There are disturbing tales of K-Space 'zombie-makers' - sorcerors on the 'plane of virtual nightmare' - whose digital spine-biting centipedes yield the 'soft-tox' juice that opens the 'limbic gates.' Crypt initiates confirm that its arterial access 'low-way' is signposted: 'Main-Flatline (under-construction).' Answers vary confusingly, from extravagance ('roundabout sixty-six million years'), through vagueness ('some time'), to mystic compression ('since now').
In other respects, accounts of the contemporary A-Death scene and its recent history prove remarkably consistent. In particular, the one name to turn up incessantly is that of Dr Oskar Sarkon, biomechanician, technogenius, and one of the most controversial figures in scientific history.
Sarkon's polymathy is attested by the variety of fields to which he has centrally contributed, including transfinite analysis, neural-nets, distributed computing, swarm-robotics, xenopsychology, Axsys-engineering ...Yet it was the resolutely sober Oecumenist (rather than - for instance - Frushlee's excitable End Times) which dedicated the cover and major editorial of its March 98 issue to the question 'Sarkon: Satan of Cyberspace?'
Sarkon has become emblematic of the ways in which technological dreams go bad. In the words of fellow Axsys researcher and social-thanatropist Dr Zeke Burns: 'What makes Sarkon's input into the A-Death thing so incomparable is that it crosses between all of the key component technologies. The biotechmnesis work is so outstanding that it tends to overshadow his equally pathbreaking research in adjacent fields. The Sarkon-formulae for non-metric pausation, for example, which provided the first rigorous basis for IC [immersion-coma] control. The links between biotechmnesis and IC weren't remotely anticipated before the Sarkon-zip [which mathematically models 'bicontinual assemblages']. Finally, there's Synatives, about which he is understandably evasive, even though he was theorizing artificial - or digital-neurotechnic - pharmaceuticals in the mid-80s!
The aggregate result of all this pioneering science: a generation of teenagers lost in schizotechnic death-cults.'