Very excited to have this essay on The Gruen Effect, synthetic eternities, and the redemption of time published in Notre Dame's Church Life Journal:
What else is the Gruen Effect but the creation of a “bad infinity”? Even more than blocking out the external elements, the duration-less experience is meant to block out the truth of death through the simulation of eternity. As the shopping mall experiences its own physical death in America, the “bad infinity” of the Gruen Effect has become digitized. It is, of course, the experience of being online, or what anachronistically was once called “surfing the web.” There is as much or more Utopian hope in the promise of becoming an uploaded consciousness as there ever was in being a pure consumer denuded of the vagaries of the physical world.
Think here of “San Junipero”, the lone episode of the show Black Mirror to unironically interpret the use of high technology to “positive” ends: the consciousnesses of two lovers are uploaded to a simulation of a city which perpetually exists in 1987 and, it is insinuated, live happily ever after. The song “Heaven is a Place on Earth” plays—on the nose, but appropriate. But what anemic imagination would conceive of eternity as simply one night in 1987 forever? Or, at least for as long as the servers which create the illusion are functional? Han again writes that “there is a rush from one present to the next and an aging without growing old. Finally, one perishes in non-time.” In “San Junipero” there is no hope for salvation and no death to give life coherence. It is just a flat non-life within the duration-less loop of a counterfeit eternity. Empty time which cannot be remembered or redeemed.
Writer - Critic - Poet - Editor