29 February 2012

Quote of the day, yay!

'... after the intentional perturbations of the atmosphere in chemical warfare, the social synthesis itself in many ways takes on the character of a gas war, as if atmoterrorism had been turned inward. The “total war” which pronounces itself in old particles and new indices, would then inevitably take on the traits of an environmental war. In this war, the atmosphere itself becomes the war theatre. More: the air becomes a weapon and a battlefield of a peculiar kind. And further still: through the commonly breathed air, through the ether of the collective, the community that succumbs to madness will henceforth wage toxic war on itself. Exactly how this can occur [Hermann] Broch was to explain by a theory of “states of somnolence” …

States of somnolence are states in which people move as mere trend followers under the trance of the normal. Because the forthcoming “total war” will in principle be battled by atmoterrorist and ecological means (and therefore in the medium of total mass communication), it aims to strike at troops' “morale,” troops who are increasingly seldom distinguished from the general population. Both combatants and non-combatants – the synchronously gassed and the simultaneously provoked – become bound together in a state of collective somnolence through toxic communions. The modern masses then see themselves integrated into an emergency-communist unity which bestows upon them an acute feeling of identity born of the common threat. What then proves particularly dangerous are the climatic toxins emitted from people themselves, since, desperately agitated, they stand sealed together under a communication bell jar: in the pathogenic air conditions of agitated and subjugated publics, inhabitants are constantly re-inhaling their own exhalate.

Whatever hangs in the air here has been put in it by totalitarian forms of circular communication: the air is filled with these hurt masses' dreams of victory, with their ecstatic and empirically cut-off acts of self-aggrandisement, these masses who are followed like a shadow by their desire to humiliate others. Life in the media state resembles a stay in a gas palace of high-spirited adventures.'

-- Peter Sloterdijk, Terror From The Air, Semiotext(e) 2009 (pp. 100-102)


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