This is the only slightly tongue-in-cheek thesis of Allegra Rosenberg, writing in Ryan Broderick’s excellent “Garbage Day” newsletter. In a section of the newsletter, Allegra talks about reading and trying to memorize Hamlet’s soliloquy, how it reminds her both of Twitter and of Derrida, and of a recent edition of Charlie Warzel’s Galaxy Brain newsletter in which he discusses theories of contemporary society as posed by L.M. Sacasas:
In Hamlet’s keen analysis from inside his own cloud of hesitation, it is the fear of the unknown which prevents him or anyone from taking the craved-for plunge into the sweet release of death. It makes us rather bear the ills we have / than fly to those we know not of. He understood how stuckness self-perpetuates. The equally frustrating presentness perpetuates, too, in Sacasas’ contemporary formulation: when everything is commentary, what else is there to comment on, but prior commentary?
He says: “We’re not building toward new ideas; we’re relating things that just happened to other things that happened before that” — and thus the native hue of resolution / Is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought. The internet is a forest of inscriptions, so dense that we are far too caught up in infinite fractal brambles of things said and done to actually make any real choices, and/or to understand our situation insofar as we can affect it.
This got me thinking about Jacques Derrida (I know…). In Archive Fever, a later work dealing with the looming digital age, he speaks about how the titular fever — what he identifies as a death or destruction drive — allows in itself for the ongoing existence of the archive: “There would indeed be no archive desire without the radical finitude, without the possibility of a forgetfulness which does not limit itself to repression.” Basically the only reason we’re stuck in the “doom loop” of forever talking about the past, as Warzel puts it, is because the internet contains both the constant production of the past as well as an intense feeling of ephemerality.