Please follow this link.

  • the87press

Digital Poetics #4 fragments from Munchausen by eproxy resin: Rob Kiely

'The notion that a car cannot be repaired seems impossible to some. If the car was designed and assembled by humans, shouldn’t humans be able to figure out what ails it? The biggest factor driving this is that cars have become so complex. Gone are the days where the only wires under the hood went to the distributor or the battery. Now, most cars contain more computing power than 1960s NASA had at its disposal. And all it takes is one or two of the control modules under the hood to go wonky before the resultant problems start confusing the technicians.'

– Steve Lehto


'It’s Mars at a certain time and it’s a certain time in the hills above the city, it’s a particular time in what was once the dole office and it’s a long lost time in all the old record stores and a far off future time in all your neat start-ups and an eternally moribund present in the pop-ups and it’s now and forever the management meeting now the meeting when we’ll discuss the monitoring mechanisms now the meeting during which we’ll discuss the new desks and the seating arrangements and the chain of command our positions will imply the schools merging the faculties merging departments divided now the meeting to implement the module evaluation questionnaires the meeting to respond to the tyrannical VP or to the tyrannical student reps [“executive furies of the robot lord of death”] while it’s 16.20 and school’s out or 18.00 and work’s all done but then what just other times the edifice unbending so find something to do with your time find some way to freedom or is it facilitating your freedom in your leisure hours or more likely your recuperative hours your spare moments they drag behind you bring no respite all your anxious hours are a working.'

– Richard Parker


'Robotic security guards are toppling into mall fountains. Computerized digital assistants can answer questions and translate documents, but not well enough to do the job without human intervention; the same is true of self-driving cars.'

- Aaron Benanav


Inductive reasoning reigns supreme. Those who experienced economic growth acted like and thereby imagined that this growth would continue unabated and undiminished. Maybe this made sense for awhile. But it no longer applies. Twentieth-century economic growth was a one-time thing, and the twenty-first century is a situation where economic headwinds are amped-up. What we’re talking about is SF in the headwinds. SF is not about imagination, not about the future. Just as it has a skewed relationship to everyday language, SF has a skewed relationship to temporality. For the people who wrote SF, it was about their contemporary time, though it looked like it was about a future time. This is originally Samuel R. Delany’s claim, and it’s absolutely right: SF was only ever about its own time. It is only ever now about the post-war boom. The contemporary popularity of SF is inextricably bound to nostalgia for that so-called golden age.


A smartphone is just a smaller computer sellotaped to a phone duct-taped to a camera vacuum-packed inside some international intelligence agency’s network. What was the last real invention? Shut the fuck up, inventions are counter-inventions. People are patenting and controlling access to what has already been invented. Invention is policing. The dawn of Web 2.0 was a counter-insurgency, then it flips, in which large areas of what was essentially functioning as a commons, full of piracy (Napster, Limewire, etc.), has been gradually replaced by paid services and increasingly controlled and screened access. The internet is no longer never could have been a wondrous commons but a segmented gated community. Underemployed scholars are daily bombarded by ‘Mentions’ that withholds, teasing an update to their latest CV. This is less about innovation and invention than control and refusal. How do we slow this all down, everyone asks. The fact that some of those involved in Web 2.0 were the same individuals or came from their ethos – see Zuckerberg et al. – doesn’t invalidate this point. Obviously the two often work in tandem – Elon Musk wants to be an Edison of the space-age, and this is inseparable from his company’s petty bullying of the Tesla Frankenstein mechanic. What used to be software products and files are now services. I used to download a program or a movie or Limewire or buy a DVD and I had it, as an object in some sense, but now I subscribe to a service on which I can watch the movie if it’s available, or rent it on Amazon for a limited time. This seems closely related to the rise of importance of intellectual property. An ecology once made a bulb that lasts. Enter Phoebus cartel stage left. It is impossible to think of putative technological progress without a thorough understanding of the Phoebus cartel. Capitalist incentives lead to innovation, but not better technology. Most technology is increasingly an un-repurposable closed box, planned obsolescence on tap. Sorry, the clutch is gone, best get a new one. Drip fuckin’ drip. Most cars can now only be repaired by an approved vendor, and can’t be repaired too often. Not like in the good ole days eh? The effort put into slowing down technological complexification and quality by capital is immense. To acknowledge that, however, is not to say that once capital is removed the sky is the limit of technological complexification and quality - not on a finite warming planet it ain’t. The engineers inserting code into your printer to make it stop after a fixed number of pages are, from a certain vantage, slow-motion saboteurs deeply integrated into capital’s circuits. Sabotage itself has been stolen. We live on fumes.


The setting. No way in, go in.

The white tundra. Two bodies. One is

yours. Inside. It is, perhaps, a cybertruck.

The cybertruck is a satire of a truck, but it

is still a truck. It is very clever

like that. I’m very clever, says Elon.

He is in the space with you. Outside,

the tundra. Yes. You are very clever,

you say. Where are we going.

The closed space. His face is

so close. You could almost, but no.

Would you like to meet him? I’m

very well connected you know. The

nail speaks. It peeks out from a painting,

There is nothing outside or around, no tundra.


I don’t know about

the rattling

or about the domes

intended for Mars

but due for

there, nearby

but not us

and some people are so tied

to the eroticism of competition

the city crawls

with callouses


The Martian cycle of accumulation

is the happiest place,

the new frontier-fantasy. Be in the first hundred

have an impact

be useful, spontaneously

do what needs to be done

for survival, not profit.

There are no bullshit jobs anymore,

no bullshit jobs in space,

the metanats stalking the gravity-well.

You might find an angel-skeleton, Zubrin says. Which is a joke and not a joke

it is not a joke

insofar as he really wants you

to want to go to Mars

and start again, primitive accumulation

free from worrisome indigeneity

to kickstart a new American dream

in this interplanetary allegory.

Supply chains

would be hypersensitive, no possibility

of living off the land.

Mars is full of possibility

which is why we should continue

to work and fuck ourselves and the planet up

continue to feed our labour

for this dream, this profit.

It has all been leading here

in the autumn of the world-system

with a choice between Mars and China

there is no choice at all

it is Mars

which is the frontier

and we need frontiers

to continue to fuck each other over.

Just lie on the psych-test to get to go there.


This wasn’t an allegory

it was experience, which is allegory with only the literal level 

which is a plane without edges 

which is a mountain with no incline 

and anything else productively paradoxical or tense 

and the drone in the allegory is a fungus 

I actually mean this

and Nooria is maybe growth maybe salvation 

and the escape room is what 

the escape room is Arthur C. Clarke’s 

preface to Zubrin’s clarion-call.

The progressive deterioration of human physiology 

in zero gravity.

Should I go on? 

Violent strife bears us into the firmament, 

to you, yanked up by you  

to you.

The shapes 

are ones I will never understand 


In the allegory, the animals are 

a milky-way-clear sky  

and LA is a horse

in the Baron Munchhausen’s adventures, and size keeps changing 

he puts its’ hind legs 

in his pocket in 1971  

to stop it kicking.

In the allegory and outside it and under it David Bowie is planet X 

and in the same allegory, the beverage Maulayresibutonack is I, birdflock but 

am memory-crushed by 

those claiming that prose 

in 0.6 g is 

free verse 

growing in the mangroves 

there are machines lukkan eftir machines lukkan eftir machines 

and Tom is is oh what is it 

to be unsung 

is chemicals abstract 

is how can a storm 

be sudden 


Anyway there was no allegory 

because we live allegory 

without a level of meaning 

social hieroglyphs we don’t understand 

and this is only enacting 

a scorched-earth policy 

with regard to genre 

that is all I intend 


Robert Kiely is the author of simmering of a declarative void and Incomparable Poetry. Other fragments from Munchausen by eproxy resin, an attempt at a satire of Elon Musk, have appeared in Big Echo, No Prizes, and are forthcoming in WRITING UTOPIA.


This publication is in Copyright. Rob Kiely, 2020.

The moral right of the author has been asserted. However, the Hythe is an open-access journal and we welcome the use of all materials on it for educational and creative workshop purposes.

1,134 views0 comments