Quotable (#8)

Writing in e-flux, Franco Berardi Bifo excitedly ties a number of accelerationism-related topics together. Explicitly linking accelerative “semiocapitalism” to the fiat currency era, he tracks the dot pattern forward into neuropharmacological collapse:

William Burroughs has said that inflation is essentially when you need more money to buy fewer things. It’s simple: you need more and more signs, words, information, to buy less and less meaning. It is hyper-acceleration used as a crucial capitalist tool. When Marx speaks of relative surplus value, he’s speaking about acceleration: if you want a growth in productivity — which is also a growth in surplus value — you need to accelerate work time. But when the main tool for production ceases to be material labor and becomes cognitive labor, acceleration enters another phase, another dimension, because an increase in semiocapitalist productivity comes essentially from the acceleration of the info-sphere — the environment from which information arrives in your brain.

Do not forget that your brain functions in time, and needs time in order to give attention and understanding. But attention cannot be infinitely accelerated. Marx described a crisis of overproduction in industrial capitalism — when production surpasses demand, an excess workforce is fired, who in turn have less money to buy products, resulting in an overall effect of economic decline. In the sphere of semiocapital, however, overproduction is linked to the relation between the amount of semiotic goods being produced in relation to the amount of attentive time being disposed of. You can accelerate attention by taking amphetamines, for instance, or using other techniques or drugs that give you the possibility of being more attentive, more productive in the field of attention. But you know how it ends.

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