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Ian Macartney

Ian Macartney

Ian Macartney

Linlithgow, January 2023 (20th) - March 2023  (15th) 

Ian Macartney

Linlithgow, January 2023 (20th) - March 2023  (15th) 

Linlithgow, January 2023 (20th) - March 2023  (15th) 

It was a joke.

I liked the absurd redundancy (“post-post”, after ‘after’) and pun on online speak (‘shitposting’), coined in the flash of a thought, ex nihilo, this while walking by Union Canal.


I think of these kinds of spontaneous creative flourishes as acts of God, things meaningless until pursued. It reminds me of the Swedish artist Hilma af Klint, compelled to paint abstract geometries by a spiritual force before spending decades decoding her own work in a series of notebooks full of diagrams. Her process, as Kurt Almqvist and Louise Belfrage write, was a “spiritual science”, wherein Klint re-tread “her visions time and time again trying to understand their meaning”, creating in the process “maps of the spiritual world”. [1] The post-post-internet, in being folded inevitably to the term “post-internet” (never as departure, sticking to the moniker, forever-response; not a historical distinction, of a time after, but of development, intensification, alongside)  has a similar recursion, twofold. The post-post-internet is a kind of ‘spiritual science’ for it not only departs from inevitabilities forecast and implied in discourse and definitions of the ‘post-internet’, but also asks what happens when the vocabulary of a world immersed in the internet takes hold, outwith, in ‘the offline’, the hypothetical utopia of an ‘AFK-glade’ to be frolicked in, but then the eschatologies which incubate that dream – the foretelling of deep time, say. The end of websites.

[1] Kurt Almqvist and Louise Belfrage, “Hilma af Klint in Historical Context” in Hilma af Klint: The Art of Seeing the Invisible, eds. Kurt Almqvist and Louise Belfrage (Stolpe Publishing, 2021), p. 14

[2] Andrea Long Chu, Females (Verso, 2019), p. 19

[3] Gene McHugh, Post Internet: notes on the internet and art 12.29.09 > 09.05.10 (Clink Editions, 2011) p. 5

We can also call the post-post-internet the geo-internet, entropic pantheism or even the deep time frier (think the act of ‘deep frying’ an image, circa 2017 memes). For, however beyond/after the joke I try to go, again, I must stress: ‘post-post-internet’ can never be a serious term. It shouldn’t. Just look at it! What a mouthful! When Andrea Long Chu writes of ‘sticking to the bit’, in stand-up comedy -- that “to commit to a bit is to play it straight”, this “the humourlessness that vegetates at the core of all humour” [2] – I think of the post-post internet as an example of this. Herein lies its validity, its empty potential, the radical nature at (/in such) play. Though let’s not forget that post-internet is also flawed as a term. “The internet, of course, was not over”, as Gene McHugh wrote in 2009. “That wasn’t the point”:


Rather, let’s say this: what we mean when we say “Internet” changed and “post-Internet” served as shorthand for this change. […] The rise of social networking and the professionalisation of web design reduced the technical nature of networking computing, shifting the Internet from a specialised world for nerds and the technologically-minded, to a mainstream world for nerds, the technologically-minded and grandmas and sports fans and business people and painters and everyone else. Here comes everybody. [3]


In the post-post-internet, this becomes “here was the spirit”. If using the internet in our contemporary day-to-day is already strange and haunting – hauntological – when the internet goes down proper us denizens of the online will be haunted by an absent-presence that once was, now absent proper. The arranged limbo of being/not-being in digital spaces, when broken, will be a reckoning to our brains. Let’s call this speculative future double-haunting, i.e. let double-haunting be another alternative name for the post-post-internet, because it is not as simple as dwelling online, or offline, nor is it the surrender to a post-internet denial of the binary, but rather to anticipate the return of the offline. To treat the internet as a geological image, exhaustible and finite, powered by servers powered by dwindling fossil fuels.

PPI 10.heic

Yet within this purview it is, miraculously, spiritual, seeing depth in the glittering million surfaces then envision, within them, a diagonal – ! > ! – expression of depth that is not depth, that which does not have subterranean status. Think of double-haunting as a ”progressive evolution of consciousness”, [4] as Walter J. Hanegrauff says of Romanticism, wherein the geometry of “the romantic spiral” narrativises “the loss and recovery of this particular kind of gnosis” .[5] Let us think, in other words, of the post-post internet as a kind of spiritual science towards the romantic spiral, wherein “the great goal of Romanticism” – “to overcome the alienation between mind and nature” via “the active imagination, which creates in the very act of perceiving” – constitutes a certain kind of “reunion”, as from this “common experience of humanity” comes “the “new earth”, now itself a reality. [6] Post-post-internet as hyperpastoral, the yearn for the AFK-glade, the oscillation between elegy and ode.


To say the post-post-internet is in tandem to the vocabulary of Romantic criticism is to also say it is in tandem with metamodernism, itself described as ‘New Romanticism’ In certain circles, and so this is the other (diagonal!) angle to come across the post-post-internet. I.e. let’s think of SPAM Press. After its immaculate conception “post-post-internet” quickly became a tongue-in-cheek(y) response to SPAM Press, this before I was enfolded proper in October 2022, I a bemused witness writing in the .gif glitter dust. Metamodernism, meanwhile, was coined by the cultural theorists Robin van der Akker and Timotheus Vermeulen, who describe it as “the dominant cultural logic of Western capitalist societies”, [7] one characterised by “oscillation rather than synthesis, harmony, reconciliation and so on […] continually overcoming and undermining hitherto fixed or consolidated positions”. [8] SPAM elaborate on this in their About page, circa 2016:


We believe to be entering the metamodern phase in which the monstrous Chthulucene of self-devouring irony and the reduplication of signs and slogans find an inseparable companion in new constructive sincerity, in the need for wholesomeness and reciprocal care. […] We acknowledge our generation’s need to constantly move between pretence and eagerness, between the absolute and the relative, between optimism and cynicism – never having or wanting to choose. […] SPAM provides a DIY platform for writers, artists and musicians to work through the frustrations of the times as much as unfolding the everyday weirdness, joy, and bipolarity of our contemporary condition. [9]


Back in 2019, with arrogance only an undergraduate could muster, I deigned to add a third column to Ihab Hassan’s table of differences between modernism and postmodernism, to distinguish metamodernism further. I deemed this, erm, the ‘Macartney Extension’. Some of my terms don’t make sense (“Fashion/Love”?!?!) but it does offer heuristics for a mode central to the genesis of SPAM Press:  [10]  

[4] Walter J. Hanegrauff, “Romanticism and the Esoteric Connection” in Gnosis and Hermeticism: from antiquity to modern times, eds. Roelof van den Brock and Woulter J. Hanegraaf (State University of New York Press, 1998), p. 249

[5] Ibid., p. 250

[6] Ibid., p. 251 

[7] Robin van der Akker and Timotheus Vermeulen, “Periodising the 2000s, or, the Emergence of Metamodernism” in Metamodernism: Historicity, Affect and Depth After Postmodernism eds. Robin van der Akker, Alison Gibbons, Timotheus Vermeulen (Rowman and Littlefield, 2017), p. 4

[8] Ibid, p. 6

[9] “About SPAM” on Accessed February 22nd 2023

[10] Extrapolated from table in Ian Macartney and Epikinetics, “The Zoo of Afterlives: a Potentialised Anthology of Post-Postmodernities”, c. 2019

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[11] Personal correspondence, Glasgow May 8th 2022

[12] In 2016 several allegations of sexual misconduct against the ‘alt-lit’ poet Steve Roggenbuck came to light.

[13] “What is post-Internet?” on, accessed on March 7th 2023

[14] It is nigh impossible to reference this book properly, as only a handful of pages have page numbers.

But perhaps metamodernism has dimmed, too, in either its relevance or potency or both. I remember Maria and I discussing this the first time we hung out, sitting by the fountains in Kelvingrove, [11] considering the axis of toxic men associated with the metamodern (Shia LaBeouf, Steve Roggenbuck…) and then men otherwise divisive (Matt Healy) who also tend towards the mode (think The 1975’s “Sincerity is Scary”). Was it possible to realign to a different axis of, say, Nicola Barker and Miranda July and Joanna Newsom? I recall the strange parasocial acquittance I had with Roggenbuck – how I emailed him poems, that we tweeted each other on occasion, the strange grief that arises when the sins of these digital celebrities [12] come to searing screen-light, the offline’s atrocity breaching the strange floaty-ness of digital celebrity. The essay where I extended Hassan’s table proposed a similar idea, the notion that postmodernism’s pluralising effort impacted even the cultural-aesthetic-historical continuum it resides in, that ‘what comes after’ is not a total new mode, but many modes all at once, what I and Epikinetics (er, also me) deemed the zoo of afterlives.


Maybe post-internet has dimmed as much as metamodernism. In June 2020 this was written for SPAM’s “What the Hell is the Post-Internet?” collage-manifesto page:

Maybe the point of SPAM is that most of these articles on the postinternet are like 7+ years old (i.e. coinciding with the aftermath of the New Aesthetic, Net Art and early postinternet/flarf/alt-lit poetry) so our interest/purpose is to carry the legacy of that term and continually reinvent it through the fugitivity and contingency of a life lived online this long, and into the future. Life in the Vivid Dream, as Grimes would put it, is to ‘live in the world just like a stranger’ but it’s also to ask why, to keep asking ‘what do you mean?’ […] The postinternet is kind of to say, what would still constitute an online experience of the sublime? Is there a resistant potential in pursuing this, or staying with the sheer sense of the internet’s dailiness? Could we also go radically afk (away from keyboard); what does poetry look like offline? [13]


The post-post-internet is, perhaps, to remark actually, yes, you can go offline, “radically afk”, it is possible, to speak back to a speaking back. And if that was not the case, what would it mean to perform offline-ness as if it was? What if we stuck to ‘the bit’ of the offline, reclaimed back into genuine daily living?


Because like any fatalism, the post-internet can tend to the reactionary. The Extreme Self by Douglas Coupland, Hans Ulich Obrist and Shumon Basar is full of aphorisms that do – “the opposite of the self is no longer the crowd”, we are told, and “the opposite of man is no longer nature.” Also featured are weak metaphors (“everyone’s dance with the Cloud will be happening together in a cosmic cyber-ballroom”, “technology has outrun our ability to absorb it”), cringe maxims l(“there’s no point being horrified that the online world has replaced the real world”, “the comment section of YouTube has become the real world”, “fascism starts with the harmonisation of a zealous crowd // communism starts with the forced harmonisation of a zealous crowd […] all-isms start with some harmonization of a zealous crowd”) and then just sheer liberalism (“it’s actually astonishing how much the Left and Right have in common”). [14] Of course, this universal super-shift of selfhood we are told the internet has provided is dependent on the fantasy of an infinite deposit of rare metals, this the material result of an onslaught of technology-industry buzz and hype and marketing. The Extreme Self is dystopia-as-marketing. The post-post-internet lets the internet be fragile, again – as un-universal.  We can think of SPAM, in this purview, as a similar call to ‘DADA’, of digital nonsense, the absurdity within online language, that which stands against the cohesion of social media’s snappy copy, clichés rendered through ChatGPT, The Extreme Self.  

For even if this apocalyptic waiting – for the offline to return – is to last forever, such waiting is a generative opportunity. In several issues of Critical Inquiry between 2012 and 2013, Wai Chee Dimock and Mark McGurl debate the ramifications of deep time. McGurl coins “the posthuman comedy”, in which the bit of “scientific knowledge of the spatiotemporal vastness and numerousness of the nonhuman world becomes visible as a formal, representational and finally existential problem”. [15]  For, if in billions of years “the earth is incinerated in the heat-death of the sun, the deep time of the earth sciences is difficult to integrate into even the most capacious visions of civilisational, national or institutional continuity”, [16] which is to say that the geological epochs of the future beyond human comprehension, the post-post-internet, “will be the time not only of our death but of the death of death and the concept of infinity, too” .[17] Dimock, in contrast,  sees this as an opportunity:


That guaranteed ending, because it is so far away, taking so long to get to, is also likely to be multiply articulated at every point in its trajectory, with many loops, forks, and tangents complicating its pathway. While the outcome is not in doubt, the routes to it are likely to be numerous, and the content of any particular slice of time, on that long run of 4.5 thousand million years, is anyone’s guess. The known outcome, in other words, is in no way retrojected, in no way binding as an inverse funnelling mechanism, a linear entailment derived from its preset endpoint. That endpoint neither dictates nor even unduly restricts the range of possibilities emerging at every stage. [18]


In envisioning the post-post-internet upon these grounds, there is a romantic spiralling, that inverse funnelling, “time convoluted into a whorl”, as Jeffery Jerome-Cohen puts it. [19] Unlike the human archive, as exemplified in the internet, “geologic time is cosmic and profound, a dense account of planetary formation, mineral thriving, continents that slowly glide on a liquid mantle, ceaseless subduction” – “human history”, in this perspective, “is a segment cut from an overwhelming story”. [20] It is only in the post-post-internet that “currents swirl with affective detritus, recondite matter, queer fragments, anomalous proximities”. [21]

In Tinderbox, sitting in a corner table under the stairwell, Kirsty Dunlop called me a “whirlpool writer”. [22] It is in this whorl, this spiral, I desire the post-post-internet, an eclecticism available – desired – because of this ubiquitous post-internet, but also via faith in a futurity which ends beyond language, wherein “the relative autonomy of the micro, a phenomenal register not bound by and not replicating what might be imagined to encompass it […] points to a dialectic of negotiability and non-negotiability, with a multitude of phenomena appearing either laterally or below the line, not necessarily foreclosed by the terminal event.”  [23] In other words, borrowing again from Dimock, ”what is kept alive here is a plurality of scales, at once nonrepeating and nonrecuperating, held in vital suspense at every point, not eliminated as a possibility”. Just because “something disappears at the end”, the internet vanished and double-haunting, “doesn’t mean that it never existed; a subjective sense of freedom is not necessarily a delusion.” [24]


In the geological future there will be no future, no cultural modality to comprehend a futurity, no yearning for what comes next. Pantheism of a sort, then, the meaning in entropic pantheism, God as the heat death of the universe. If the internet tends to one’s overwhelm then there is an eschatology in the possibility of a ‘’true’ offline, the post-post-internet sense that “there’s no return to arche or origin that is not a spiralling”. [25]


[15] Mark McGurl, ‘The Posthuman Comedy’ in Critical Inquiry 38.3 (Spring 2012), p. 537

[16] Ibid., p. 538

[17] Ibid., p. 359

[18] Wai Chee Dimock, ‘Critical Response I: low epic’ in Critical Inquiry 39:3 (Spring 2013), pp. 614-5

[19] Jeffery Jerome-Cohen, “Anarky” in Anthropocene reading: literary history in geologic times, eds. Tobias Menely and Jesse Oak Taylor (Penn State University Press, 2017), p. 35

[20] Ibid., p. 25

[21] Ibid., p. 26

[22] Personal correspondence, 118 Ingram Street, Glasgow, January 23rd 2023

[23] Dimock, p. 615

[24] Ibid.

[25] Jerome-Cohen, p. 38


[26] Steve Lambert, “SelfControl” on, accessed 23rd January 2023

[27] “A Long Now” at, accessed Feb 26th 2023

[28] Personal correspondence, George Square, Glasgow, February 21st 2023

[29] Also I have, like, TikTok (for a creative project) and LinkedIn (for shameful reasons), so…

So what functions of the post-internet everyday allow us the promise of that extra prefix, so mockable but spir(itu)ally ripe? I wish to stage the offline, ‘AFKness’ in the twenty-firs century, as the avenue to consider this post-post-internet promise. Even years before lockdown I felt an irresistible push-pull between social media networks – I would deactivate, reactivate, make private accounts, make accounts for creative absurd purposes, etcetera. Maybe one could think this my ‘post-internet era’ in terms of creative work, in which I did things like serialise a novella on my wiped Facebook account. But at the end of September 2021 I finally committed to ‘leaving’ social media, deactivating my main accounts, my Instagram and Twitter and Facebook. A big part of this was achieved through the application SeldfControl. Conceptualised by the artist-activist Steve Lambert and programmed by Charlie Stigler, Lambert describes SelfControl as “an OS X application which blocks access to incoming and/or outgoing mail servers and websites for a predetermined period of time […] once started, it can not be undone by the application, by deleting the application, or by restarting the computer – you must wait for the timer to run out”. [26] It’s all very Protestant, on the edge of being malware, and I love it. The effect it has had on my life feels profound – I believe it might have saved my soul. I spammed the twenty-four hour maximum limit to the point it began ticking down from 8700 hours, that is, a year, and within that charcoal ladder of its blocklist of Twitter and Facebook and Instagram and dozens others and, as an experiment, a site I usually adore, YouTube.

I want the charcoal ladder to be an alternative name for the post-post-internet, its games of restriction, the post-post-interne something ‘lud(d)ic’. The internet I now experience is primarily the ‘functional internet’, the settings page, the email inbox, Dark Mode Messenger, Discord servers. I flirt with making my iPhone monochrome;  I wonder if I will switch to the new Nokia brick that comes with WhatsApp; I research more into that micro-industry of productivity apps, like Freedom or Opal. I also use Spotify a lot more – the post-post-internet becomes playlists, be it the playlist of a Messenger divorced from the Facebook account, or the System Preferences menu, or the chain of emails checked religiously. I think of this when I read the description for Spotify’s playlist ‘A Long Now’: “Slow down and embrace the immensity of time. This is just an ambient blip in the long now.”  [27]


In a taxi barrelling towards George Square, Iain Morrison remarked that I was "fluent" in the internet, its speeches and patterns and networking, [28] but perhaps the post-post-internet is the desire to lose that fluency – or, at the very least, to take its talents and potentials elsewhere, the online away from the internet (or the imagining of that away-ness, at least). People send screenshots when they post pictures of me on Instagram; they scour my username that no longer exists, they try to tag air. I desire that more intimate engagement, dialogue versus witness to facades of community. It is not I am eternally joyous without social media, the primary aesthetic apparatuses of the post-internet, but rather my head is clearer to define and live with despairs and mental affliction and the rest of life’s usual dark chances, which is to say I am left feeling geological.


Of course, it is never this simple. It is in the overture of the post-internet to recognise that an individual leaving social media sites is, still, to respond to – to be agitated towards – social media, the world social media has built. The breaks are softer than people assume. Instagram, at the time of my deactivation, did not let you delete permanently, which means there is always the chance it will reconstruct my profile in seconds if my log-in details are entered again. Likewise, as I still use Messenger, that Facebook account divorced from the app could resurface if I so wanted. And anyway, because of my responsibilities in SPAM, I still download those dreaded apps, logging in with the publisher account to fulfil duties. I just delete them as soon as I’m done, before I get sucked back into that (anti-)whorl. It is not that I have suddenly unearthed a vein of willpower in the geological-thinking firmament, some igneous sense that made me able to leave websites designed to agitate my brain’s dopamine receptors into staying ‘online’. I had to download software to restrict the impulse in the first place! [29]


Perhaps I want to be offline without naivety, since there are certainly naïve ways to be offline. If The Extreme Self proselytised a fatalist liberal post-internet, then the alternative is liberal resistance. In the second volume of ‘offline journal’ Analog Sea, Jonathan Symons writes “A Letter to the New Generation”, where we are taught “the new technologies, reaching now into every part of our lives […] are making us passive. We’re forgetting what sets us apart from animals and algorithms, what makes us more than half human” [30] It is also “time that we accepted that the internet failed, that it never became the heaven of absolute freedom we dreamed of”, as “in the internet age the gap between the question and the answer has dwindled to seconds” [31] and “now the marketplace is always on […] we never catch up”. [32] I can’t say I disagree, directly, but the handwringing doesn’t sit well with me. It contains the limpness of all manifestoes, any text which seeks to confirm a humanist spirit. Let the post-post-internet, in contrast, desire the spiritual without the humanist spirit – why not try and find precedent in the algae-rhythm, the mushroom of an internet, to think of natural networks as Gaia’s dream of the internet?  Internal netting of all thinking, against the aesthetics of internet beheld to a preciousness we must dismiss to get to God, which is dust? And then to dream of its disappearance, the double-haunting to come?


Thus I wander, wondering like a blind priest, along the looping screen of Union Canal. Now we have to discuss nature, I guess. During lockdown, living back in West Lothian after years in Aberdeen, I began a daily routine of walking by the canal, either west to the Avon Aqueduct or east to The Park Bistro. It was recursive, the constancy of the landscape, seeing the life cycle of ducks play out three times. Walking became a kind of scrolling, the meandering screen of water. If the post-post-internet has a ‘spiritual map’ it is perhaps of Union Canal. But even here, without social media, there is a phantom obsession, a precursor to double-haunting where the routines and trick, the muscle memory of the smartphone, persist. I.e., I post and take pictures and videos of the canal plus its wildlife, constantly, messaging them directly to friends. Thus the Messenger epistolary, the internet-as-cosy, its intimacies against the jet lag of the ‘feed’. Union Canal as the clean feed, the feed empty of content (sort of).


This is what Nathan Jurgenson calls social photography, where – with the ubiquity of smartphones – “millions of people were suddenly taking, sharing and viewing each other’s photos as part of everyday communication,” [33] a “photography whose existence as a stand-alone media object is subordinate to its existence as a unit of communication”. [34]  So far so post-internet, then, not really post-post. And Jurgenson is fiercely critical of ‘offline culture’ by way of Symons. “Rather than forgetting about the offline,” Jurgenson writes, “we have collectively become obsessed with it”, [35] to the point “one of our new hobbies is patting ourselves on the back by demonstrating how much we don’t go online, don’t have a certain social media account, don’t take photos.” This “fetishizes the disconnection. […] the fiction of the collective loss of the offline”. [36]  What results in this rhetoric is a techno-determinism similar to The Extreme Self’s, like when he writes “the logic of social media follows us long after we log out. There was and is no offline. […] always a phantom […] It is incorrect to say “IRL” to mean offline: the Internet is real life. It is the fetish objects of the offline and the disconnected that are not real”. [37] He derides the notion of “the digital-as-poison” [38] and, don’t get me wrong, I agree on this part. I love the digital! It has formed me in endless ways, and my entire writing/creative process would be apocalyptically different without the digital. I write as a relationship with machines, as I have argued elsewhere. [39] The post-post-internet, in rejecting these post-internet conjectures, unlocks a re-embrace of the digital; that metamodern oscillation between Symons and Jurgenson (if I were to cram this into a naïve dialectic). The post-post-internet sits against the real-life intrusion, that hybrid sticky enmeshment between fleshy and virtual self, that negated digital possibility, unlike when on forums in web 1.0 and your persona was entirely anew. Now pictures of your face weigh down the possibility into an underwhelming mush – sort of you but, you know, not. You-slivers. The saturation of possibility as another name for the post-post-internet, then – the offline is a polluted canal and I walk by it every day. I think of its plastic debris, a bright traffic cone sat irregular on the frozen water, but I do not dare tread fully. Not yet, but soon. I’ll wait.

[30] Jonathan Symons, “A Letter to the New Generation” in Analog Sea 2 (2019), p. 1

[31] Ibid.

[32] Ibid., p. 3

[33] Nathan Jurgenson, The Social Photo (Verso, 2019),  p. 4

[34] Ibid., p. 9

[35] Ibid., p. 66

[36] Ibid., p. 67

[37] Ibid., p. 68

[38] Ibid., p. 62

[39] Ian Macartney, “Writing-ification” in CAPSULE XII ed. Ian Macartney (sincere corkscrew, 2022)

But what do I expect from someone hired as “a Sociologist at Snap Inc.” than techno-determinism? [40] We are being told by an employee of the universality of the product he works for. Of course he’s polemic – his job is on the line. This is quite apparent in his strange muted response to Snapshot’s most infamous dark capability – its use in the proliferation of child pornography – where we are told that although “sexting, which is so often represented as an inherently corrupting activity caused by technology that endangers vulnerable teens”, to avoid risk “is impossible and perhaps even undesirable”, because “adult disapproval may make sexting seem even more sexy”. It is the “violation of consent” and “shaming” to blame, “exacerbating the harmful stigmatisation linked to such harassment”, [41] 

“In the future, will we still remember how self-satisfied we were about any time spent away from the screen?” [42] Jurgenson asks. The answer is no, because in the deep time of the post-post-internet there will be no screens, maybe a burst canal or two or two million, only the double-haunting of the internet’s promise, the internet divorced from technology. Imagine Hilma af Klint compelled by the spirits to paint a romantic spiral, endlessly off the webpage, and that spiral flowing with the complexed waters of Union Canal. That spiral is the shell of apocalypse – there was, once within, leaking language, a dream that could not hold, the sense of ending in something ended by the merits of an extractive machine.,this, a skewed (glitched!) form of pantheism, but now it is something else.


For the Romantic poet Hölderlin, his pantheistic “desire to be at one with the cosmos” frequently came “up against his awareness not only of the difference between human and non-human nature, but of the isolation into which human beings are precipitated by their consciousness”, as Michael Hamburger writes. [43] In the post-post-internet this is synthesised – if the internet precipitates our consciousness, chooses our words in autocorrect and suggestive text and ChatGPT’s whirring emulation, that fatalism ends in the eternal spiritual openness of deep time. To lock oneself into the recursive canal walk, away from social media like Hölderlin in his “‘tower’ on the bank of the Neckar in Tübingen”, [44] is to live towards the post-post-internet – what appears an isolation is an acceptance of the geological, “the very unselfing” so long sought “after unbearable endeavours”. [45]


[40] Jurgenson., back leaf

[41] Ibid., p. 60

[42] Ibid., p. 62

[43] Michael Hamburger, “Introduction” in Frederich Hölderlin, Selected Poems and Fragments, trans. Michael Hamburger (Penguin, 1998), p. xxii

[44] Ibid., p. xxxvi

[45] Ibid. p. xxxviii


And if, as  Ernst Friedrich Zimmer said, it was “the too much he had in him that cracked” the mind of Hölderlin”, [46] then think of the post-post-internet not as a promise of technological diminishment, or a resurgence of the offline, but rather some Romantic ideal towards “peace at all costs, humble contentment, retraction as well as retirement, after unbearable endeavours”, [47] a “progression as one through contraries”, [48] i.e. the ghost whistling through the ruins of a machine, a computer terminal mud-stuck in the marshes of Union Canal. When Hölderlin writes of “banks that re-echo” in “The Fettered River” [49], think this another name for the post-post-internet – think of social media’s “youthful land of eyes” as one day “perished, / More athletic / In ruin”. [50] And, when next wandering along the Union Canal, seeking deep time’s promise, think of “The Walk” where – “clear from the distance” – all “glorious pictures shine / Of the landscape I like to visit”, and even though you may disperse such images along a temporary network, soon to double-haunt only the survivors of whatever is to come, it is in “the bubbling source” of the internet’s end that spirituality necessities what “the primal image yields”, [51] because this primal image could only ever be one of Heaven,  the only one we will ever receive.


[46] Ibid., p. xxxvii

[47] Ibid., p. xxxviii

[48] Ibid., p. xxxix

[49] Frederich Hölderlin, “The Fettered River”, p. 103

[50] Ibid., “Patmos (fragments of the later version)”, p. 245

[51] Ibid., “The Walk”, p. 333

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