Programming the Vicious Circle: Austen, Deleuze and Viral Repetition
Rhizomes: Cultural Studies in Emerging Knowledge
Viruses have taken command of cybernetic space. Today, in the age of uploaded exteriorized memory, sociability as such has become a function of algorithmic disincarnation. This fractality, we assert, is a fundamental and primordial condition, an aspect of dynamic (re)integration, a process of negative entropy whose temporality is of unhuman dimensions. One cannot really escape from viral repetition. In the example of the "Austen-virus," textualities return, reappropriated by malware and other
... lignant agents. The exteriorization of memory perpetuates this repetition, the Eternal(ized) Return, what Pierre Klossowski termed "the vicious circle." Eternalization, the rendering and reintegration of memory, correlates with externalization. This circle, this space of disappearance, is haunted by the return of that which refuses to disappear. It is precisely because disappearance is never total that digital temporality and digital memory are haunted by traumatic multiplicities. Through the analysis of concrete examples of Internet hauntologies, we seek to illuminate the many and variegated aspects of haunted digital archivality. As Lev Manovich has written, the Internet as such is characterized by copresence and hybridity. Copresences make possible a kind of blending, a deep remixing that "messes up" conventions and categorizations. Digital hauntology, we argue, is fraught with ambiguity and transgressivity. Agents of multiplicity, such as glitches, bugs and viruses, breed new layers of meaninglessness, spreading chaos throughout networks, blending various strands of code, injecting ruination into coherence. It is our view that the vicious circle as an ontological concept can be of use in helping us come to terms with the many subversive forms of repetition that may be found among the interstices of networks. Through an innovative conceptualization of what we term the "Austen virus," we hope to shed new light on the ontology of Internet media.