Are we living in the Singaporean Matrix Part 2

March 9, 2009

Did You Miss Out On This Essay? Check It Out The Joy of Stupid People March 8, 2009



2005-09-09_hello_world_preview_news14. “One day we just woke up to it Neo…no one really knows how the machines assumed total control….not even the oracle…” – Morpheus, the Matrix.

That in a nutshell is how all of us found ourselves suddenly living in the Matrix. But where it all acquires a sense of foreboding is most of us remain terminally ambivalent to the whole idea of compromised existence very much in the way battery chickens never dream about roaming free in green fields – life these days is redolent with countless examples of compromised living – from work till the day you die; compete till your sinews snap to the ceaseless competition; to the whole idea of perpetuating the belief this may yet be the land of the fee rather than free.

But did any of us ever once press the pause button and consider whether this is how life was meant to be?

Tragic realism suggest most of us hardly ever think about this whole idea of limited life; truth may even bear out even if we did manage to go beyond life in the matrix; all we would probably do is pine to return to the familiarity of our cages; in the way hardened criminals deliberately commit crimes so that they can be reunited with the cold comfort of their 6 by 10 prison cells – that’s usually what happens when one gets emasculated after years of institutional dumbing down by the apparatus of assimilation.

Life in the matrix has to be closely related to the craft of perfumery – a little goes a very long way. All it requires is the hint of authenticity – the rest we can just as well make up as we go along – matters little whether it is perpetuating the whole idea of the 1st division dream team or propping up the myth – only a handful of elites has managed to make the world a better place. Along with  preserving the decrepit recognition progress always comes at a cost; and its always good value for money; what did you really expect? Didn’t you know nothing last forever! And just in case you didn’t know – if the good in this miserable world triumphs over evil – then its always by the skin of our teeth and the only way to prosecute on this good life is by sacrificing freedom of speech, liberty and choice at the altar of necessity.

That’s how many of us have come to settle for less. But what happens when the cogent is replaced by doggy bite sized generalizations? What happens when all newspapers can do is exacerbate the already acute sense of estrangement in thinking folk sharpening their pain further? The problem with the whole idea of selling less for more is it shows up in the practice it inspires – a politics that brackets i.e that (excludes, elides, embellishes and skewers) can only run the proverbial risk of trying to bake a cake without real eggs – it just doesn’t taste right – something is missing – and instead of narratives that nourish real understanding; what it does is merely heighten the sense that something is really amiss – where not only does political discourse lack resonance but it fails miserably to slake the yearning to bridge the divide, except perhaps to say this is really what life can only offer.

It stands to reason life in the matrix has to promote passivity; you cant be a very good battery; if you keep jumping out of your casing like a demented Jack in the box; so all articles need to be written in an easy open ended way that doesn’t provoke you to think beyond your comfort zone (that incidentally, is also the place where you die in steady increments, just in case you didn’t know – the comfort zone) – in short, the whole marketing manifesto of “fake is real” is predicated on serving one ratio. The necessary lie that makes the matrix real is; to paraphrase: its capacity to sustain the information exchange by ingratiating and making it seemingly effortless even if it means sacrificing of the truth!

5. “You need to take the step Neo……this is where the road ends for me and begins for you!” Morpheus –the Matrix

And this is where I must stop and you must consider whether you want to continue further on – the choice is yours – the journey that is – because this is not a road map where I tell you what is “real” and what’s “fake.” It doesn’t work that way if you’re already in the Matrix.

6. “Afraid? Be afraid Neo, be very afraid….I can see no more…it’s getting dark…it all comes down to you Neo…you’re last hope.” – The Oracle – The Matrix.

But before all of us begin the journey to re-discovering the “real” off or online Singapore (are you reading slowly?) – its even conceivable stakeholders in the online community (especially those who were not even invited to the recent IPS discussion on 4th March 2007 – which incidentally make up 98% of the online community) may even to consider rewriting the old compact between the custodians of power – do we really want to buy into the idea of empowering ONLY a select few to impose their mind numbing version of online nirvana on our minds? If we remain bovine; then we run the gauntlet of acquiescing our fate to those who may be the least qualified and have the highest motivation to preserve the status quo ante in shaping the internet– that can only offer nothing except perhaps remaking online Singapore into the image of real brick and mortar Singapore – and what one needs to consider is why even try to make online Singapore into the real image of Singapore when all one has to do is step out of the door to experience the latter?

Instead of deep spirited narratives to nourish understanding; if we relegate our fate to this new online world order what we may have to contend with instead is yet another round of endless chelating, leaching and bleaching of states and minds and schools of thoughts into ever smaller slices of nanobites – that reductionism remains the most reliable way to keep derelict academics, hacks and dead wood civil servants employed is never in dispute; but where it slips into a travesty of rational logic is when simple explanations by themselves become the ONLY basis for justifying, legitimizing and mythologizing the upkeep of the status quo ante – it matters little what hangs in the balance; you could just as well take your pick – from how the whole idea of “paper losses” and “long term” is used to explain away the Byzantine losses of GIC to Temasek – right up to perhaps the issue of online anonymity or whether we should appear more credible in our blog or even whether there is a correlation between gaming and suicide premature or the broader idea of how power and politics may shape our thinking – my point is in the absence of an oppositional voice, a contrarian view all of us would be none the wiser – and life in the matrix just goes right on – against this dystopian backdrop; the traditional set pieces of cultural authority don’t offer us a way out the matrix; if anything they seem to be ones who got us all in the gyre – it would not be exaggeration to say everything from the political sphere right down to the everything that makes up the apparatus of mass assimilation in the form of the media these days seems bent on only one corrosive imperative; sharpening our already acute sense of estrangement further and plunging many of us into a state of terminal apathy and indifference.

That could well explain why blogging offers the last manifesto for the disillusioned, dispossessed and disenfranchised; contrary to officialdom; it isn’t just the idea of hammering the government to pulp as its somehow culturally hip to do so or taking perpetual pot shots at the beloved rag only because it provides us all with respite to make our averagely miserable existence more bearable; on the contrary, there is currency to the belief people don’t just pick up something and do it, again and again, day in and day out for the nothing sake – its suggestive the whole act of blogging has to be a verb that is closely associated with the whole idea of faith; where it could even be said, the act of blogging provides us all with the promise of the last real hope – as long as we continue to struggle against the ceaseless cacophony of contrived reality, half truths and missing narratives in the real world – there may yet be hope for the rest of us.

The alternative would simply be a dystopian barren moonscape of settling for the glorious life of the alkaline battery.

Breathe you are still human…and that could just be the cue for you to look underneath your desk – maybe there is an envelop waiting for you with a phone…then again maybe, I am just kidding.

Darkness 2009

“You take the blue pill – the story ends here, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill – you stay in Wonderland …… Neo, I don’t know how it will end, all I can tell you for certain how your journey will begin.”

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