Ghost Machine

The Samuel L Jackson and Zooey Deschanel iPhone commercials just happen to trace the process of the realization of dead labor in the information device, the purest and most typical excrescence of our present moment in commodity culture. The sleek design of the handheld object already refers implicitly to intensively manual assembly accomplished somewhere very far away, an underworld away, under circumstances of production whose inhumanity is well enough known to information junkies to be presumed a narcissistic supply for guilty, which is to say sadomasochistic, pleasure, to be instantly recalled and indefinitely re-experienced in the domination of an automated pseudo-personality. The virtual coolie, coolly erotic in its or her black and white plastic maid’s uniform, a sexualized plaything, is dreamed as a datable data-goddess, but it or she must be understood as the one way-mediating spokesperson for thousands of real beings whose own desires, other than to serve, are never to be voiced at all – they are already past, human life absorbed and congealed into a rapidly self-obsoleting, and therefore luxurious, use value. Her or its artificial intelligence is their unintelligibility.  Like most advertisements, the ads sell membership within one identifiable stratum of the leisure class.  In the best Apple-Mac tradition, the depictions of an African American man and a young American woman emphasize a liberal-universalist fantasy, political progress as utopian consumption, even while accentuating the pleasing transformation of mere consumer into petty tyrant – having the number of ounces in a cup counted for, as we are told, no reason at all; whimsically demanding a weather report that, as is made quite obvious, was readily obtainable by a glance through a rain-spattered window. As the Jackson ad emphasizes, the slave can also be instructed simply to cease functioning: Intimation of ultimate power.  To complete the description, or fill it out in other dimensions, each mini-movie’s setting, the private dwelling of a famous person, refers to profits shared first with  favorites, eventually with all members of the cult of the device whose lower-case “i” realizes another set of overlapping references, ego and internet, equalized reductively:  self(-)consumption. The name given to this enslaving imaginary slave manufactured for us by wage slaves is “Siri.” It or she is a distributed personality seemingly from our collective future, but the stuff of its or her spectral existence, its or her vital ectoplasm, has been subtracted first from someone else’s possibilities, to stake an un-exorciseable claim on all of ours. Apple need never mention that the commands can also move in the opposite direction. The ads confirm that in another sense they have been doing so all along.


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7 comments on “Ghost Machine

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  1. Come on it’s Zooey Deschanel, and ‘Nick Fury’, sometimes deconstruction isn’t required, I wondered how they would pull off the Helio Carrier.

  2. Nice insights into the slave connection, CK. Miggs’ response in the first comment could be integrated into the whole issue of self-enslavement through denial and virtual power projection vs the reality you so aptly point out regarding “looking out the window.”

  3. It’s a tool like everything else, and it’s Samuel Jackson, I didn’t recall if siri was product placed in the ‘Avengers’ as for Zoey,
    well that takes little deep thought, the profanity, in the previous post, is characteristic of one of Jackson’s signature tropes

  4. Those interested in casuistry and determinism, the film suggests that Loki came to Earth, because of the research into higher order weapons, at their own version of White Sands.

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