endless, nameless

Thinking a lot about the lack of endings, of resolution and closure in digital worlds. There are the infinite scrolls and timelines of social media, of course, but also the punishing productivity norms of web development. Lots of beginnings and few endings, except in the case of unambiguous failure —a breakup, a parting with a particular platform (like that thing I wrote about Platform Death a while back), a project that simply runs into the ground.

Today I found this passage in The Transparency Society, where Byung Chul Han is specifically talking about the Internet:

“Conclusion in the strict sense is possible only within narration. In a denarrativized, deritualized world, the ending only amounts to a breaking-off that gives pain and unsettles (der schmerz und verstört). Only in the frame of narration can the ending appear as completion. Without a narrative quality, an ending is always absolute loss, absolute lack.”  (page 31)

In the real world happy endings do exist, but of course they exist as the function of a story that preceded them, one with elements that, through some discernible logic, moves to the satisfying conclusion. A narrative.

Probably the Internet we have now is denarrativized to the point where we can’t happily finalize the engagements we get pulled into therein. Of course that’s the point; it’s a product that needs to keep selling itself to you; it just creeps me out when I think about all the extraneous afterlives-of-things it’s encouraged.

Leave a Reply