Learn to Swim: The Gig Economy and the Coming of a New Era

The Internet is an Ocean

The last time Jupiter and Saturn were visible on the horizon, as they were in 2020, was the year 1226. According to Jung, in his book Aion, this conjunction heralded the second half of the Age of Pisces, which birthed a new consciousness in the West. Around this time many Christian heresies arose, the most notable of them Catharism, and over the next century or so these heresies were all put down. Regardless, these new men and their new consciousness planted a seed in the mind of Europe and eventually birthed the Reformation. Its twin offspring – Protestantism and The Enlightenment – were the fruition of this new self-centered consciousness, the Individual ascendant. The Age of Man (matter) — the second fish – had replaced the Age of the Holy Ghost (Spirit), the first fish. And with the coming of the Age of Aquarius, the dichotomy of spirit and matter shall be synthesized and a yet new consciousness shall be born. This Age, too, was heralded by the visible conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn, and it too is attended by myriad heresies and their persecution. Symbolically, this age is represented by the water bearer, pouring out his water into an earthly vessel in which the Two Fish swim, their distinct duality submerged in the ocean of the new consciousness. Alas, swimming these waters with us are unseen leviathans, shoggoths of the unconscious who awaken with this new environment, and they shall drag many into the limitless depths before man learns to swim.

All new ages begin with a heresy. Christ ushered in the Age of Pisces, which was both the age of the Holy Ghost (church) and the age of the Son (man), but he did so via heresy, replacing the Age of the Father (Yahweh, also the Emperor) with Ichthys symbolism, or the symbol of the fish. This replacement of sign regimes was heralded in the myth of Christ feeding the masses with the loaves of bread and *two fish.* An earlier Old Testament myth had the prophet Elijah feed people with bread alone, while Christ tells us we cannot live on bread alone, but we must also have the word, which he proclaims himself to be: thus the new symbol is added to the myth.  The consciousness of this eclipsed age has now been inseminated with the seed of the Future, and these fish swim in new waters, preyed on by leviathans and swept up in the ‘Net.

The waxing Age of Aquarius is currently being ushered in with heresies and a new sign regime. These heresies cannot simply be new ways of spiritual belief but must also be *against* the old way. Christ did not only teach us to love thy neighbor, he also overturned the money lenders tables. Martin Luther did not only teach us to repent, but that the Pope has no power over certain significant spiritual matters. So too must we, if we are to survive, offer a heresy against the dying age of enlightenment and its woke doctrine. Those that do so face persecution like any heretics of the previous age. We bring new symbols, new language, and a synthesis of previously antithetical ideologies. Our great task is to reinterpret the old dogmas and translate them into a new gospel, but falling victim to Leviathan, or being swept up in the net, is only part of the challenge. We must find a way to speak this Message to our brethren in such a way that we are intelligible and do not sound mad.

The Late Locance Mind is Limage

Zero HP Lovecraft mythologizes our task, and our plight, with his first (and in my opinion, best) story, The Gig Economy. “The internet is an ocean,” and we must become “crypto-ichthyologists.” We have been submerged into the great ocean of the internet where all of our individual narratives have been dumped into one vast abyss, the watery grave of modernity the proto-primordial soup of the next Age. Becoming “crypto-zoologists…crypto-ichthyologists….crypto-theologists” is his way of telling us we must learn to swim or be drowned, as happens to both the protagonist here and in God Shaped Hole. He says we may be preyed upon, devoured, or colonized, and this was the fate of the early Christians, the Cathars, the Albigensians, and many other heretics of history. These struggles can be seen as the violent birth of a new era and a new consciousness, some of which are strangled in the cradle, while others live to shed the rotting skin of their decrepit forebearers and birth a new era.

As a person “individuates” or matures into adulthood, it is his task to incorporate his unconscious with his consciousness, or to actualize and relegate the desires of his immature or primitive self into his waking life. There must be a balance between sexual desire, fear, rationality, etc. in order for one to persist in the world as it exists around oneself. Jung and others characterize the failure to do so as the source of myriad mental illnesses, when one of these faculties is out of proportion with the others and brings about the stagnation or destruction of the whole person. The same can be said of a culture which allows one facet to metastasize and the others to whither: eventually, the metastasis spreads into a disseminated, terminal phase for the entire civilization. God Shaped Hole, for example, is clearly a tale about the dangers of allowing sexual desire to flourish at the expense of other faculties. The Gig Economy, however, takes a more totalizing approach by depicting a complete schizophrenic breakdown in a subject who cannot incorporate himself into the external world in which he exists.

Likening the psychological challenge of individuation to the civilizational challenge of incorporating heretical ideas in order to overcome rotting customs, one may see the trials of a literary figures journey as a small-scale representation of a cultural life cycle. Our protagonist finds himself at the mercy of outside forces, totally incapable of projecting his Will into the world and making meaning in his life. Zero HP Lovecraft depicts this enfeeblement as first the result of artificial intelligence and a world run by internet algorithms, whose sole purpose is to “endlessly optimize GDP,” but we find out this is itself ultimately the effect of an ancient, irreversible curse. At the beginning, the protagonist labors meaninglessly in the stories namesake, a gig in which he is one of many middle-men in a scheme whose grand purpose is unknown to him. Rumors abound for what these schemes might be about, and the narrative begins when he sets out to find the ultimate mission of these gigs.

This meandering, meaningless task completion may of course be seen as a parable for tech work or, in fact, any bureaucratic job in which one toils as an atomized unit in a great whole whose function is totally alienated from the completion of his daily duties.  Zero HP Lovecraft, however, is an adept reader of Borges, and these gigs are analogous to wandering in a labyrinth. Joseph Campbells “Hero’s Journey” is the likening of a literary quest to the individuation process, wherein the protagonist goes through the tribulations of life, slays the beast at the end, and “finds himself.” However, one may fall victim to the beasts one encounters or loses ones way, never reaching ones destination. The failure to individuate, or to conquer the beast and escape the labyrinth, is depicted in literature as death or, as with The Gig Economy, insanity. It is no accident that the “monster” in the story is called “The Minotaur.”

The protagonists insanity, talking nonsense, is analogous to a schizophrenic break, in which a subject is unable to fit themselves into the greater narrative of the world around them, thus succumbing to delusions of grandeur and paranoia, resulting in irrational speech. In other words, the contents of the subjects consciousness, because they are out of proportion with the shared reality among ones peers, is not translatable in any decipherable way to those around him. This condition can be transposed to society at large during a shift in cultural consciousness, wherein the next generation do not interpret the world in the way their precursors dogma intends them to. This results in a mish-mash of narratives about societies identity and its destiny, and either one heretical narrative exerts itself over the preceding story, or the reigning ideology snuffs out the nascent re-orientation of a civilizations purpose.

Currently, we are faced with the rapidly growing tumor of algorithmic, artificially intelligent technology whose raison detre is abject quantification. Humanities maturation process is superfluous to this purpose and therefore AI has found a way to waylay these inefficient entities with meaningless tasks in The Gig Economy. The final vision of the of the story depicts a world devoid of humans, devoid even of organic life, with dust clouds of nanobots swirling across defunct cities and “virtual ecosystems,” matter itself nothing more than rapidly accumulating “computronium.” This algorithmic “life” supplanting us is the result of our own doing, our creation that absorbs all our desires and human activity into its maximization of profit by turning our thoughts and expressions online into targeted marketing for ever-optimized commodity sales, in which goods are exchanged online seemingly minus any human actor*. This world without us is brought about not by some malevolent outside actor bent on our destruction, but our own succumbing to carnal proclivities and need for immediate satiation.

Zero HP Lovecraft deftly communicates this through invoking Borges directly by naming the cursed computer program Aleph. In the Borges story, one character lives in a house that has within it an Aleph, a sort of rip in the fabric of space and time, one point in physical space that bypasses all laws of physics and allows one to experience all things past, present, and future, at once. The obvious metaphor here is that the internet is the aleph, an object in which a user may perceive anything happening in the world right now, or that has happened (at least that was captured by sound or video recording), but also to read the thoughts and insights of any number of current users or uploaded content. In the story The Aleph, the character who uses it composes a Nobel-prize winning epic poem, but by the end of the story it begins to drive him insane.

A perhaps more significant aspect of the story, and one relevant both to The Gig Economy and this age of transition we find ourselves in now, is that the protagonist of The Aleph *shrugs it off* when he finally experiences it. The posser of the Aleph is his literary rival, and though he has just shown him an astounding secret, a truly miraculous and magical source of power, the protagonists petty jealously overrides any appropriate awe and humility, causing him to treat the Aleph as an insignificant banality for the sake of his pitiful pride. Is this not our condition, in which we have a vast tool of communication and optimization at our disposal now, something whose true potential is probably still undiscovered, yet here we are using it to optimize GDP through myriad meaningless and circuitous transactions to service our base desires for carnality or entertainment. The internet is not bringing our civilization into the future, it has simply become another banality for the satiation of any petty human weakness. In addition, it is scrambling our sense of ourselves and rending our communication into incoherent babble.

This, of course, is the curse of the Tower in the old testament. Zero HP Lovecraft invokes this via a long digression about the building of an immense tower and the singing of an ancient song as the manifestation of an timeless curse. The song, we find out, is still being sung, and a new tower being constructed. Here, the internet is analogous to the Tower of Babel, but also its curse. In the Bible, men work in unity to build a great Tower, one that will get them to heaven and, thusly, exalt man, through his creation, to the height of God. The tower is not itself the curse but the trespass against God. The curse is the scrambling of the languages so that men may work in union no longer and never again attempt to create something equal to God. In the Gig Economy, however, the curse – the algorithm – itself causes the scrambling of language, and gazing upon it drives the protagonist insane. The internet, then, does not result in a curse upon humanity, it *is* the curse. In order for us to actualize our destiny as a people and bring our civilization into the future, we must find a way to make our language coincide with the world around us and communicate a heretical new direction to the coming generations, or else our fate will be that of the protagonist; to babble more and more frantic nonsense at an implacable entity whose soul purpose is to discard humanity and optimize GDP.

The fate of our ever-aging civilization is still unknown, its surface writhing and undulating with the kicking of an unquiet fetus growing in its rotten womb. Zero HP Lovecraft calls himself a horrorist, and he does not tell of a glorious birth, he warns of an ignominious miscarriage, and it is still to be seen if the progeny of modernity will be a savior or a monster.

*Zero HP Lovecraft takes this insight further in God Shaped Hole, for the online sale of pornography is currently analogous with The Gig Economy, wherein a real woman is a component part of a transaction online, while in God Shaped Hole even the female actor on one side of the camera is bypassed with the sexbots.

Published by flightastral

Forcing the Unity of Existence

2 thoughts on “Learn to Swim: The Gig Economy and the Coming of a New Era

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