the perfect opening sentence, then nothing

If you see me as your saviour, i’ll be your saviour. If you see me as your god, i’ll be your god.

Jim Jones

when i die, whenever that happens, my life will have been altered more profoundly by a handful of billionaire techbros than by the hundreds of ineffectual politicians supposedly governing my day to day existence. and not in a good way. why then, don’t i hate them so much? why, given a gun and a bullet and a head to aim at, would i blow the brain of my ex flatmate, and not, say, jeffrey bezos? read on.

it’s not impossible that within my lifetime we will witness the emergence of the first, proper, human god. not a god of humans, a god who is human. a god is a superhuman being or spirit worshipped as having power over nature and human fortunes. how does a human become a superhuman? power? power’s a start. but these days plenty of people have power. terrible, terrifying power.

now, immortality… that’s something. real immortality. none of that words or deeds or monuments shit. i’m talking about not dying. it’s coming. and when it happens that’s it. before and after. we’ll have an immortal human god, a single all-powerful figure at the head of a religion that encompasses the entire human population, or close enough. a level of control so complete that nobody, no priest, no pope, no pharaoh, no politician, no popstar or pornstar has ever even come near.

no japanese nor roman emperor
no jim jones
no jesus

it’s not impossible.

in progress

and who might this human god be? an evil, sociopathic, multi-billionaire most likely. none of that is libellous. evil? definitely. not evil like a terrorist, murderer, rapist, child abuser, animal abuser. not evil like my ex flatmate. but evil in their sociopathic imposition of their individual will over billions of people. like a genocidal dictator, but different both in their aim – which is self aggrandisement rather than survival – and their reach – which for the first time in human history, feasibly, is total, planetary, rather than partial, local.

these guys (they’re all guys) all have one thing in common: a complete, all-consuming, almost mechanical obsession with money. a mindless monomania. like slugs and leaves. money is probably a proxy. it’s how we, as a culture, define worth. we even say things like ‘gross worth’ and ‘net worth’, as though money is the only thing countable, or worth counting. so this obsession with money is actually an obsession with mostness. of having, and being, the most. in a very, very (very) narrow sense.

this is how simply they see the world. simply. narrowly. with absolutely zero nuance. it belongs to them. they must be the most wealthy. they must have the most power. they must have the most control, over the most lives. they must be worshipped.

and yet, billionaires, with the possible exception of genocidal dictators, us presidents and poets, are among the most insecure people in society. their entire being, their entire being, is defined by their having and being more than anyone else. they don’t hate humanity. they distain humanity. what they hate is anyone else who has more of anything else than them. why should social media influencers be more famous than them? they believe their platforms exist primarily to enrich, empower and exalt them – personally. anything else is irrelevant.

and so they must have proof of their mostness. in the past it was simple. money provided that proof. in the beginning was the money, and the money was with god, and the money was god. these days though, it’s not so simple. what’s worth more – a billion dollars, or a billion users? of course, capitalism has attempted to answer this question in the only way it knows how, but i get the impression that these guys are rattled. for the first time in their lives, they’re not sure about something.

so what next? well, the next logical thing of course – physical combat. televised cage fighting. because that’s how their minds work. it’s a dick measuring contest. that’s what it is. and it makes weird and wonderful sense, in the context of the weird and wonderful world we inhabit. yes, i hate billionaires. all billionaires. i don’t mind generalising. i don’t think anyone who has that much money has that much on their mind except money. i’m not sure it’s possible to have that much money and not be evil. no, i am sure. it’s not possible. it’s almost by definition.

but one good thing has come out of this societal, environmental, planetary-level fuck-up – bo burnham’s bezos quadrilogy. a small slice of the pie that represents potentially the apotheosis of lockdown-themed lockdown-era content. of which, more, later. for now, luxuriate in this.

culture section

new working title: a half-assed summary of my week in passive cultural consumption

film – sicario (2015)

a product of the cineastic holy trinity of director denis villeneuve, cinematographer sir roger deakins and composer johann johannsson that’s exactly as exceptional you might expect such a product to be. direction is tight as fuck. it’s glorious to look at. there are some sick aerial shots – especially memorable are the setting shots of the usa/mexico border wall to introduce the convoy sequence, which, by the way, is so well done and so fucking cool. it’s a chase where nobody is chasing. then there’s a traffic jam. and somehow it’s brilliant. the dusk skyline black ops silhouette shot is pure art and might be the most beautiful single shot in a film full of beautiful shots.

the score is sensational – scary, deep, elemental. shades of volker bertelmann’s score for all quiet on the western front, which i also loved. machinelike, primal, inhuman. i plan on writing a post focussing on johann johannsson at some point (i have lots of plans…), so i won’t dwell here, but his scores have invariably elevated any film in which they’ve featured, and these are films that were already pretty fucking elevated (mandy, for example). not to mention his posthumous directorial effort (which he also scored), last and first men, loooosely based on the olaf stapledon science fiction novel, is an outright masterpiece (as is the novel), and one of my all-time favourite films.

acting? pretty fucking good. benicio del toro is a great actor, and here he has a great character to work with. i found it interesting how his character is revealed, rather than developed. it’s all there, already, but as the film progresses you get to see more, and understand more. in some cases, new understanding doesn’t just reveal character, but forces you to reevaluate and reconsider previous conclusions based on faulty or missing evidence. emily blunt does a decent job too. more than decent. if anything she seems to be there to remind you that everything you’re seeing is in fact completely insane. it’s real (well, that’s debatable, but it’s at least a semi-fictionalised version of real), but that doesn’t mean it isn’t insane. militarised borders, black ops missions, extrajudicial assassinations. she’s something like captain willard in apocalypse now, both a witness, and a conscience.

for similar reasons i loved the scene before the final mission, with the black ops lounging around in the motel drinking pepsi or whatever. it’s the sort of realism that seems so absurd in context that it jolts you out of the standard cinematic passive acceptance of everything as sort of normal. none of this shit you’re witnessing is normal.

series – frontera verde (green frontier) (2019)

miniseries, or limited series, is absolutely my favourite form of television. of maybe any film media. i know exactly how much i have to invest before i set off. i can binge without losing weeks of my life, and there’s not a million unnecessary or underdeveloped side plots to trudge through to get to the shit i actually care about.

this one was super cool. not perfect. the ending is sort of rushed, perfunctory, like they ran out of money or fucks. but it has a lot to recommend it. it’s set in the amazon, on the border between columbia and brazil. there’s all sorts of interacting groups, indigenous people, locals, city folk, loggers, religious fanatics, nazis. yes, the nazi plot is a bit jarring and in my opinion doesn’t quite fit. what worked great was how it starts out as a crime procedural, city cop vs local hicks sort of thing, and slowly weaves various supernatural elements into the plot. towards the end, i felt like those supernatural elements became too dominant, eventually to the detriment of the series overall, as the actual crime plot, which i was also invested in, got mostly forgotten. but there was a sweet spot somewhere in the middle half of the series where all these elements were working in perfect synchronization and competition and the result was so damn watchable.

other stuff… the main character is a total badass, and sexy as fuck. whoever did the makeup for the indigenous people did a great job. i’m not sure if that was a realistic portrayal of actual indigenous makeup but either way – very cool. the whole thing gave me annihilation vibes. the alex garland film i mean. where you’re not sure if the characters are going crazy, or the world around them. i always approve of the use of psychedelic drug use too (in art and in life). there was an interesting investigation into a bunch of themes (another thing that the miniseries format has the potential to do better than film) – men / women, death / life, darkness / light, capitalism / nature, knowledge / mystery. yes, the ending sucked a bit, but no regrets watching this one. and if there was a season two i’d watch that too. but there isn’t.