Second life – new temptation for classic narrative form – novel. Second life! The adventures of a virtual hero, of which will read – who? Virtual reader, avatar, yours, mine?
Cyber age brings with itself new artistic forms, new life forms. Ever since William Gibson, who reshaped science fiction into cyber-punk of the eighties-and-so-on, later more and more saturated with yapism and status defined, symbolical paroxysm of fragile darkers’ personalities in their uncertain squash-lives, until the growing of advertisement spots into full featured movies of the Matrix kind, and finally into the new involvement of philosophy into art by means of creating cyber-metaphors – exactly as was precognited by Phillip K. Dick – where digitalized essence of phenomena impulsively overcomes stressed, extinguishing physiological form of life.
Exchangeable reality, interpolated time, multiplied prints of personality on the virtual background of Darwinist pre-world. And the ambition of Signalism is above all to use all available elementary modes of articulation and prevent procreation of emotional-ideological discourse of reactionary quasi-traditionalist forces which look for their support inside too fast a change of fashionable communicant-receptor’s authenticity expressions, and so creating a monopoly over usage of “actual” phrases.
This kind of communicant-receptor i.e. NPC (Non Player Character), is actually being produced by postmodernist novel sprung out from the inertia of superficial, aggressive sensationalism of technological development tide. The position towards the science as is characteristic for consumers-information conglomerate is radically opposed to that of the Signalism; for the former, science is a resource from which the comfort of renewing identity is being extracted, and for the latter, Signalism understands science as a tool for redefinition (by means of recalibration) of simplified world elements, and by doing so, for opening new dimensions of life experience articulation.
The difference is essential. In the first case identity is being sold to the subject, and in the second, subject realizes its identity on the abstract level, as a Gnostic principle of mastering the media.
Virtual reality, and lets not forget that any reality is virtual – but this virtual reality for a change, as a new form, is probably best described in Philip K. Dick’s novel Ubik. Transition from real reality into second life is unnoticeable. Reader must go back and carefully read again in hope to detect the moment when Joe Chip dies and transfers into his afterlifedeath, virtual existence. Good luck reader!
Such a plot is attractive to both artists and philosophers – and to both of them: seriously. What if this real life of ours is no more but some… dream of a butterfly? This theme is completely unacceptable for traditional novel, since it is – fiction. But what if fiction turns out to be something real – as much of it moved from science fiction into reality by now – what will happen to traditional novel which places fictional heroes into the real world? Will traditional novel at one moment become fiction itself?
What if fictional man from the novel is just a dreamer of a character which dreams the writer? And such a fictive personality reshapes the world in which writer exists, and finally from virtual space spills on us torrent of our creators who will, dead cool, at the end of working time turn us off and go to sleep, without even saving us?
In one of Roger Zelazny’s novels (This Immortal, 1966) mythical world of ancient age overcomes worn out reality. Chimeras and Nemean lions, gryphons and medusas, come to life again. It would not be such a miracle, aren’t we witnesses that our own multi-mythology dives on us from each and every pixel of monitors and TV screens, from each letter of printed text. Isn’t the whole comprehensible corpus of humanity’s virtual subject exactly a mythological space in which legends have magical, fatal power?
Who creates myths, he creates reality.
But which myth is our reality? Or, which reality – is our myth?
State of the art literature, and so Signalist, has critical attitude towards reality – that is the basic condition of artistic approach, condition which allows seeing phenomena through to its root, origin, not just as an apparent form. In Zvonko Saric novel Soul catcher, reality is seen as physiology of man mixed with his digitalized extension. While functionality of society retains all of its characteristics it had in the past, only the media of projection has changed. What suffers is material, the essence remains the same. So what is this essence to which art, Signalism, comes by analyzing the input of “reality” through the main character – a man who suffers it?
It is the myth of human society, myth of distribution of roles, myth of distribution of energy, of the resources’ manipulation – and realization of that myth is not just in definition of separate functions which redirect energy, but also in immersion of personality into that projection. Usually the main character is the one who until the end bears the struggle for preservation of his identity, his independence, but the very plot deprives him of it; main character has already lost his identity in interaction with the world, the only question is, since the conflict already exists, who will be the winner, who will be destroyed – or the final fusion will occur in which subject loses the “outside” which moves it.
World is the assigned enemy – the basic theme of myth. Anima or animus, spring out sometimes as aid, and the enemy is monstrously faceless, and often impersonated into an official of the social/religious/ideological system. And that is the human world, the human system. Nature, as enemy, can never posses its own purpose. Only humans, with their will, set purposes, and into the means to achieve those purposes they include other human beings.
In writings of Ilija Bakic experiment is an obvious thing, reduction of reality of existence onto simple elements of perception. With him the loss of language is the effect of fatigue and fall into oblivion. This is exactly the opposite to the poetical practice, in which the language is forced until it falls apart in its ripeness, while the unspeakable meaning is announced between words, as the strength of flow and emphasized rhythm. With Bakic, and it is similar with other authors mentioned in this treatise, reduction of language is part of general demutation. The sources of activity in environment are fewer, the being-perception, which lost its ability to produce impressions, i.e. the world, is made passive because it now reacts only to few inputs, which change with more or less regularity. This experiment is especially elaborated in Bakic’s stories published in his recent collection The Autumn of the Collectors, and it culminates in his novels Prenatal life, New Babylon (prosa brutalis) and Ice. In the novel Ice, which is written in fusion of three languages, main characters are not any more capable of distinguishing different fields of reality: human simulacrum, natural sensitivity, chemically induced perception, dreams, the world of hibernated brains. And acting of this novel’s characters itself unveils on all these levels simultaneously, and their comprehension of such realized reality is slow, inadequate, dim. The whole existence is reduced to energy death of Hegelian history of humanity – all the force of the Information age results in an, until now, unknown or unacknowledged phenomena – de-evolution.
One of the basic characteristics of Signalist novel is poetical wake, the wake – poetry is in essence the guardian of the creative method, it produces word, but this word does not depart from it, not into emotional or ideological systems in which one’s own origin is being forgotten. In prose writing is essential that poetry is used as light which permeates the matter of speech, which comes alive. Boring listing – that is the worst thing. Living prose is inventive in each sentence, and it owes that to the poetry. So is apeironic marrow the basic characteristic of Signalist novel, because in it story is not the purpose, but it is used as a string of an instrument to emphasize the strain of the relationship between existence and being. 
In Ubik reality “thins”, the source of energy which sustains it collapses, brings it down and turns it into a dream which parameters change as it is observed, so the subjects of novel must improvise and create the world ever anew in which they barely survive as such, and not to mention to fight each other. One and only element in this Dick’s masterpiece does not suffer from entropy – Ubik, “safe, when taken as directed”.
What in Ubik appears as different from typical is that dues ex machine does not any more function in an usual way. God from the machine doesn’t make the hero immortal anymore, so the strafes or whole wars miss him, or catastrophes. Here the hero dies/dies-not, and on the first place by importance appears existential focus, an attempt to define the subject outside the life-death as the circle of demarcation. In classical myth this theme is lightly touched by usual trip into the realm of the dead, but now these two worlds are in constant connection, they merged into one.
Death is a motive, the motivator of life and life which is already dead has no motivation anymore. This is why in novels The Soul Catcher and Ice we have another kind of motivation: the very material of novel is a tool in author’s hands which aims and acts in subconsciousness, because historically observed, this variety was not appropriately addressed in literary tradition. If for the world one alternative is chosen, and make it an active alternative, which changes all the time and becomes, at least partly, a source of action, that conditions the appearance of a character which, as opposed to classical novel character, also changes, changes its direction, loses and gains traits, while death has been eliminated as the ultimate limit – then reader is also pulled into the machine and he too must deal with external changes, changing his own perception and the ability to anticipate.
If things are observed in this manner, it becomes clear that novel always played the role of confirming the existing systems, systems in becoming, fortifying, decomposition. Through literary production we can quite reliably understand the world in which we live and see the road on which that world moves. And in the age of cybernetics and information, the interaction between the world and man translates man into a different code – exactly at the moment human genome has been decoded the possibility of recoding it is being opened as well as possibility to translate it into different metric systems: nano-physical/chemical or digital form of existence.
The appearance of real alternative simulacrums pushed to the front line one earlier rarely used method of exposition, much more characteristic for music – the fugue. It is not unusual for fugue to appear in experimental poetry or prose, fugue is only conditionally possible in language because of the linear nature of the latter, as opposed to music or visual arts, where simultaneous sequences are possible. But what fugue was in psychedelic or speculative fiction, now gains new matter, gains mass, because the reality of cyber-reality in great measure comes to the bursts of information packages injected into consciousness with intention to just later (or never) get together in adequate wholes, systems of meaning and coherent contents.
In the latest movies production is this “information showering” best observed (lets keep in mind that it all begun with the appearance of TV commercials and video-spots). Information which reach us from movie screen build choreographic scenes which projections in time are very short, and because of the effort necessary to put those images together in the brains of spectators, the story itself, the action of the movie is totally abortive and turned into an unintelligible fiction. The effect, the impression, is what is today the most interesting in movies’ and other, especially visual, arts. Why?
The effect is a blow and it can only have strength if it is unexpected, unexplained at the moment of reception. The effect of such blow is the excitement (thrill), and that excitement is what is fun – the basic reason for going to the theatre, or entertainment as such – the reduction of need for having fun to a process which mostly reminds of a speedy prickling of tattoo needle, where the contents of a show is just a decorative moment. In such a “revival” of the most contemporary art any need for deeper contents, which demands contemplation, is absolutely eliminated.
The same burst method can be also used in literary media. Fugue is a sign of intelligence – without it there is really no story. Simple insertion of one sentence into another is already a fugue. But deformation of syntax, adding surplus meaning onto one word, enabling various logical outcomes, or even usage of several cognitive systems within one text, will build fugue which will alone start to produce an independent virtual world in which, and only then, the author may start to really test his creative ability.
To read a book, one must believe in what he reads. It is not the question whether one can believe in fantasy – people read fantasy as all other genres. What this is really about is whether the supposed reality contains enough energy to produce the effect – so we believe in what is being told us, because it really exists. This tautology exists only in the relation “me – other”. The reader identifies himself with the “other”, lives with it and through it – that is the definition of reality. That’s why fantasy is reality. But reality is something through which one passes, and when it is passed, seen through in totality, it is spent. The first sign of a reality’s weariness is its fatigue, reduction and inability to recreate. The reality of humanity, or simply human being, lies in the fact that worn out forms stack as history, and history as such will continue to be the reality only to the moment it has been thoroughly seen. Now is the task of literature to leave behind the seen through history and to transfuse its experience of understanding reality into a “new reality” – as the method of understanding reality itself which brings the pure intensity to the place of object, but also to the place of “rediscovered” subject. From the position of this intensity any form is possible, it shapes not only perception of the “other” but also of the subject which perceives it.
Now the subject is the one who crossed the limit of the speed of light, relativity has been seen as such and we have arrived at the general theory of relativity – which is a departure from the human form. Science fiction, which in great measure searched the answers to purely existential questions, on the individual and humanity level – is now dead. Not because it exhausted its source of energy, but because it transfused into reality, it conquered science and social theory, it stopped being fiction. Science still needs to confirm that subject left from the event horizon. But in art this has already happened. It has to happen. The end of childhood.
What means for realization of this happening offers Signalism?
In one part of social theory (say with Baudrillard) the symbolism of death has been explained. In novels from Zelazny, Herbert, Pohl, and many other authors, the possibility of man’s immortality is being explored. In most cases, this immortality is seen as a continued existence through centuries and millennia. There are many ways to make this “dream” come true: change of human shape, metabolism control, “moving” consciousness or soul into cyber-space, android bodies, etc. But the importance of the moment of insight into the essence of existence is also not overseen, as it removes the very existence from time-space continuum. What confuses the most is the identification of personal-historical contents with the individual which wants to live forever; that way the subject is limited to one line of existence without possibility to be “something else” – a lasting monument is being built which endures by constantly enlarging its mass – that is some kind of endless statistical existence.
Traditional literature follows exactly those steps. It idealizes one model of emotional and ethical being which survives as subject for centuries, while human specimens dress in it, last for a while and then leave this world with no serious consequences for the clothes. Here death is not symbolical, it is natural, justified by the model of existence, in the end properly mourned. Here it is about a symbolical exchange of life, not death.
And that mourning of death, seeing death as nonexistence, marks the spot on which Signalism finds another solution, the point in which Signalism irrevocably separates from “traditionalism”.
Death is not bad. What if death is not bad? To what extent such a view affects the idea of reality? What if the main character dies – why in such case everything becomes pointless? What is it that dies? Where did the active principle go?
In action novel hero is the one who suffers. Novel needs suffering. Life needs suffering, someone who strives to survive. Wild bunch needs victims, wolves need sheep. The whole world’s order goes down if no one is left to suffer – and salvation from suffering is death. That’s why death is cursed, denounced, banned. And death was smuggled into literature as the antithesis of good. Presumably, death is the source of suffering. We cry when someone dies. Someone’s departure leaves behind the vacuum, and that vacuum pulls us, tears us, moves us.
But, lets see now what happens in Bakic’s novel New Babylon. His hero is placed into a completed, closed world. It is not simply a world from which one cannot leave, it is a world which retrieves everything behind its limits into itself. All that one could possibly reach by leaving this enchanted city, already exists in that Babylon. There is no need to go anywhere, to aim for something, to plan. One should simply live, do what can be done, and so carry on. Death is always possible, there is nothing tragic in it, sometimes it is fun, maybe salvation is in it. This is still not known, but there is no strain, there is no unnecessary suffering.
All the might of this world forces man to suffer to get some food and other basic things. This isn’t about anything else. All is directed to this, to force man to suffer. Everybody is doing that to themselves and to others. And that is the reality – this reality from Bakic’s book really is the reality. For someone it is harder, for someone easier, but that’s how it is.
It is that curse from the Book, the expulsion from Eden, at the very beginning of the story of man. And that has been man’s reality since ever.
And from that enchanted circle there is really no way out, unless we start asking about death. I already see everyone bristle – no! not death! Better to suffer, not die. That’s better. Surely better. Must be better. Isn’t this the best of all possible worlds?
Until now, in my opinion, literature didn’t do its best. Past pollutes present. Present pollutes future. Maybe the outcome is in nano-poetry? Intelligence is under attack. Truth is death – that’s why fear of truth. False dilemmas develop, theories being patched. Calumniating. Like death.
But death can not be un-thought. If death would only run away from thought – but thought cannot touch it… It only produces it.
And so Bogislav Markovic writes a novel on death, that is Shadow, which is a description of the world. Life mixed with death, and is the opposite possible at all? Isn’t will for life – will for death?
Deconstruction of life is language. Deconstruction of language – return to the source. But, let’s not get obsessed with purity. Purity is a clearing, empty, morbid. Production of deconstructed language seems like pulse, and that pulse prevails. What’s awaiting reader there? In deconstruction story is evasive, the subject of deconstructed story is indifferent towards the contents, his only problem is that he must talk. That story is rhythm, a carrier-wave and it, like Tesla’s resonance, deconstructs the reader.
De-protocolizing of language unveils on the level of existence – which means in action without motivation. In novel Shadow, Bogislav Markovic, by means of glorious fugue, describes such existence. Life is like a rag, a patchwork of dreams. The hero persistently tries to realize life, to connect perception, memories, feelings, wishes. But in death everything is apart – life in death is a consciousness deprived of consistency. And the world of inconsistence is a powerless world. The force is in subject, but it does not find its match in being. Corporeality is not the answer, it is always wrong, it always develops into outburst. The main character himself is not consistent, he appears in several forms, with many names, with many histories. He tries, from several points of departure, to encompass singularity, the wholeness of existence. But the world, life, like matter after Big Bang, goes away irreversibly. Returning into moments is distancing from the impulse by means of misinterpretation. The impulse-mover, does not move itself in order to depart from itself, to double. This doubling, typical for perception, is atypical for singularity of the subject. Subject must stay with itself, that’s why its experience of the world is decomposition – what is not subject, by force of subject – decomposes.
If the world is what is wanted, than it is wanted as destruction. God destroys Sodom and Gomorrah. Prophets curse human habits. Artists tear apart conventions. Love for the world is murder, betrayal, exchange of self for a handful of silver coins. Self preservation instinct is a delusion, it is the intent to destroy. Artist sees this huge map of parts, scrapes, which are moved by an invisible magnet, shaping inconceivable figures. That force which attracts – the attractor – relates to life as temptation. Life suffers incredibly from that relationship. It resists confluence with the inconceivable center and builds its zigzagging path by means of little icons thrown about into the past or the future – into the only thing in life that smells of poetry: a desperate sentimentality of seeing itself within the impressions. But the story of life is the story of movement within the memories room. Life is never now, in the unrealized. That which is death, this now, is ostracized from life. Because death refuses to fall apart.
Characteristics of life is that it is already – passed; that is why Markovic positions himself in death. Desperateness of life is reflected in an attempt to deny that. Continuity… Exactly what doesn’t exist in Ubik, in Shadow, and in Bakic’s stories it does exist, but in such a way that it would be better it didn’t – repeating of “familiar” which is the confirmation of “existence”. Mirroring. And this very continuity is the main target to blow in Signalist prose – which means, the very life is the target.
And now, a step further… behind the mirror, into the calumniated.
Signalist novel must clearly establish the opposition of the consciousness of the efficient and the consciousness of the ethical. Consciousness of the efficient establishes as its purpose the execution of protocol. In action novel the dominant element is the scheme, scheme is what needs to be made “alive”. Hero only lives if he follows the preconceived path. This is typical for postmodern production, that form which consumes the reality is essential. But in existentialist novel things stand differently. Here the efficiency is understood exclusively in the sense of destruction of form, hero doesn’t need superhuman physiological characteristics – hero stands in one place and the only action he undertakes is understanding. By understanding he destroys the world, that’s how he conquers it.
In postmodern novel the ethical is replaced by the “grammar” – the grammar of life, or society, if you wish so. But if the author is above all interested in the letter (like Jim Leftwich, for instance), what kind of prose is the result of such intent? Signalist text is parallel to the innate reality. The difference of these two texts produces tension. Reader, as the suffering subject, is crucified, but only if reading Signalist text. If he reads postmodernist text – then he is being used. What crucifies is the drift of Signalist text which takes the reader onto some other level of existence, from which critical attitude is possible. Reader separates from his Lebensraum and enjoys the opportunity to observe it from a distant point. And this separation is actually the place of ignition of subjectivity. In swimming against the main current, subject uses its own energy for creation of its own “world”.
Speech by letters does not become when there is nothing else left to say by words. It is the same as when letters become mail-art, and now letters speak as a sign of action, and not the language they are written in. Or when gesture replaces words. Signalism does not use symbols, into words, letters or images, it does not imprint meanings. Charge is not injected into form: what happens is the opposite to that, charge is taken away from form and returned there where it belongs – to the subject. From this originates the ethics of Signalism – as opposed to postmodernism as an expression of the consumable reality. Reality of Signalism is cessation of things and affirmation of principle, the apeiron – as Anaximander defined it: as the undissolved in which all the potency of cosmos is contained – the force.
The ethics of Signalism is the implication of apeiron – subject is being saved from usability. Subject is not part of the world, it is not being used so the world could be.
 Jean Baudrillard, The Spirit of Terrorism, “In this case the real is added to the picture as a subvention of terror, as a rigor more. It is now not just terrible, but it is also real. The violence of terror is not the first, and the rigor of picture is not added to it, but first comes the picture, and to it is then added the rigor of the real. Something like a fiction more, fiction which overgrows fiction. Ballard (after Borges) talked about reinvention of the real as the ultimate and most terrible fiction.”
 Zvonko Saric, “Intermediality is in Signalism and some postulates of Signalist novel”, Signal 22-23-24, Belgrade, pp. 41, “It is easy to understand that contents doesn’t need to have the assumed cultural norms and values, and contents based on Signalist poetics enables writing of Signalist novel. Signalist practice is based on poetics which originates from deeds created from experiments and existence of such Signalist poetics enables an intent to write a Signalist novel.”
 Mikailo Bodiroga, Manifesto of Cyanide Art, “Let music die! Let the world shut up! Underground rivers of words are our mighty watering places. Absolute sum of all harmonies gives chaos. Life is for slaves. Cyanide artists will on the day of Final Judgment before God easily bring back to life their image they have been building – Death.”
(From Slobodan Skerovic book CHIMERA OR BORG, Belgrade, 2008)