Generation Todestrieb

My entire generation is traumatised by something that hasn’t happened yet. Shaking and sleeplessness, autoimmolatory alcoholism, fits of violent rage and sobbing breakdowns, weeks of self-imposed seclusion, an epidemic of anxiety. Generation Todestrieb. The accusatory inner voice that used to constantly seek out our weaknesses and insecurities doesn’t even have to bother any more. It just screams its wordless rage directly into our stream of thought, knowing that we know exactly what it means. We have all the symptoms of post-traumatic stress, except that for many of us there’s no primal fracture, no repressed event. What’s tormenting us is the future, or rather the lack of a future. Now that the myth of human progress has been gently euthanised, the only thing facing us is a catastrophe. We’re standing on a cliffside, so close to the edge that the angle of its descent isn’t even visible. There’s just a blank and distant sea.

Extract from the ‘What the radical left can learn from One Direction, by Sam Kriss at the Idiot Joy Shadowland blog. The post connects the nihilism of ‘generation-Y”, or Generation Todestrieb, to the burgeoning anxiety-panic affective composition of contemporary life that results, in part, from life under late capital. The post moves on to discuss the absent object of desire of psychoanalytic theory and the possibility such offers for a form of transcendence: the fanatic of pop culture as a heroic type for radical politics.

From this brief synopsis, it becomes clear that there is something of a wave in theory circles that comes very close to the post-nihilist praxis being developed on this site. The form of transcendence that Kriss is looking towards isn’t the transcendence of Gods or Idols of other kinds, but is itself an immanent transformation of the affective overload into its own transcendental moment. This kind of immanent transcendence is what is left to us who live inside the catastrophic: dysphoric and panic conditions may themselves be the shifting, fragmenting grounds of a new order of heroism.

7 responses to “Generation Todestrieb

  1. Reblogged this on Senselogi© and commented:
    “Personally, I’ve never been a nervous type; I tend towards melancholia instead. Days thud past like slats on a railway line, their rhythm producing only a jolting queasiness. They’re not hard to fill. Aside from the regulation egodystonicity of the heautontimoroumenos, which is quite time-consuming all by itself, I tend to find myself wasting a few hours on a couple of Nouvelle Vague films. Sad men and self-destructive women fuck, kill cops, smoke cigarettes, and feel nothing – and I’m always left with a strange kind of jealousy, as if a impeccably cut charcoal-grey suit and a Erik Satie soundtrack could lend my unhappiness some kind of significance. Or I’ll watch Hollywood blockbusters online; pirated cam versions filmed in a cinema somewhere in the Russian provinces. I prefer them. It’s not low quality, it’s high aesthetics. Action is flattened, motion is shaky, the multi-million dollar digital effects spectacle is reduced to a chaotic blur, an intricate mess of abstract patterns rising from the darkness of the screen; the whole thing starts to look like an overblown tribute to German Expressionism. All this is punctuated by occasional twelve-hour binges, expensive drinks, gambling, until I emerge somewhere near the Embankment some time after dawn and idly consider throwing myself in the Thames. It’s not too bad.”

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