Digital Despair and the Fading Nostalgia for Cyber-Utopia #cyberpunk

In this video for Zer0 Books, Douglas Lain talks about the origins of cyberpunk, modern digital despair, the cyberpunk now, and two forthcoming books by the publisher, The Freaks in the Machine (a history of cyberculture and Mondo 2000 magazine) by RU Sirius and Behold a Fail Horse (learning critical theory for radical social change) by Matt Christman.

Lain quoting from RU Sirius’ The Freaks in the Machine:

After cyberpunk, ours is a world where the dominant comfort narrative, in games and movies for young people, is an endlessly repeated story of colorful individualistic punk revolutionaries overthrowing dystopian authoritarian corporate states, exactly like the ones in which we currently live. This is what it looks like when the bad kids take all of the good toys for themselves and leave us bereft, a crude and contemptuous caricature of the utopia we strove to make real.

We reached the shining celestial city on the hill and found a claustrophobic epic mirage. Be careful what you wish for.

One other idea from the video that struck me (although it’s painfully obvious when you think about it) is that, in the cyberpunk now, personal self-expression (once thought to be a revolutionary breakthrough of a “way new media”) has become little more than a banal act of social conformity.


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