the world can come to you


There’s a now-redundant wall outside the (currently unsponsored) stadium, on which someone has scrawled a strange, pseudo-cubist bird. It’s bulging, ever-watchful eye was painted at some point before tech made that kind of old-school social mischief – the real good stuff – obsolete. Graffiti doesn’t give you the same rush as virtual reality, ya dig?

The stadium hasn’t been used in years. I’d venture to say that the bird is the only one watching sports in person. People can’t be bothered to leave their houses for anything, let alone sports, since the nationwide rollout of the Microsoft Xperience Holographic Immersion Throne v.2.1 ™ and its accompanying Virtual Reality processes.

Why go out into the world when the world can come to you?

The tagline from the commercials was secured with some science gibberish, something about how a series of small pulses from the throne’s electromagnetic halo could be delivered to the part of the brain responsible for…whatever…and a neurological substitute for an external stimuli could be produced… all very sci-fi, except, you know…it was real.

The Microsoft Xperience Holographic Immersion Throne v.2.1 ™ was real. It was here, in America, and it was addictive. Look on a long enough timeline and you’ll see abuse follows the distribution of any groundbreaking technology. Most of the time, this abuse stands to exacerbate some mental burden, some level of active participation that can easily transition to passive consumption. That’s not marketing: it’s a fact.

Passivity became the norm. Of course, some people will argue that it was status quo long before Microsoft (hell, I might even be one of ’em) but something just clicked in the American psyche when that fucking chair came out.

It was like all the little bits and pieces of the broken people of America were glued back together as soon as the electromagnetic halo, like a scorpion’s tail ready to sting, fired that first electric shock straight into the brain. The MXHIT v.2.1.

External stimuli are irrelevant once you figure how to manipulate intra-neural connections. There’s no reason to trudge all the way to a stadium to watch a football game when you can download a bioprog that makes your brain think you’re there, eating nachos and drinking beer with all your famous friends (Scarlett Johansson’s been the most downloaded bioprog three years running). All of this from the comfort of your own living room.

What hard-working, overeducated, underpaid American could resist that?

Could you?

Some days I sneak past the bird and into the stadium. I sit way up high, in the nosebleeds. I can’t imagine being able to afford ones close to the field. I breathe deep and picture tiny players scrambling around the dilapidated field far below. The stadium seat isn’t as warm as the one I’ve got at home.

word by Josh Elyea

colour by Mark McClure

From the author: “When writing this piece, I really wanted to ponder what it was about the contemporary moment that’s so threatening to “the real” (I know that’s vague…bear with me). I’m often distracted by questions of authenticity; authenticity of art, authenticity of experience, anything. This piece gave me the opportunity to analyze some of those questions through the technological filter that’s omnipresent in our everyday lives. It’s overwhelming to think of the sheer speed of technological advancement these days, and it begs the question; how does technology affect our understanding of authenticity? Is there something to be said for genuine experience? Hell, if that’s your argument, does technology diminish an experience at all? Or does it enhance it? Life’s not as simple as sitting in a chair anymore, and I really wanted to take a look at why.”

otters holding hands


Towards the horizon, a yacht crawls across sand. It’s a trip to watch – a massive silhouette against a Nevada furnace. A rhythm, something dancy and electronic, thumps in the distance. The beat hadn’t changed in six hours. This is what it means to be a DJ in the 21st century, he thinks… toss on the laptop and let that record spin, baby! He would’ve hated it if he wasn’t so stoned. What’s so great about the fucking desert? Some of these mammoth sculptures were awe-inspiring, sure – they were standing inside some sort of terrific wicker palace, after all – but it didn’t resonate with him the way he wanted it to.

“Why bother building it if you’re just going to burn it down?”

“If you don’t get it, there’s no point explaining it – you’ve got to dig it to dig it, ya dig?”

“But I don’t dig it. I don’t. It’s like sure, you want to forgo the material limitations forced upon us by a capitalist consumer society. I get that. I can dig the idea of transient art. I’ve read Kerouac… the here and now? I dig that. But this… just seems like a whole lot of work, doesn’t it? I think radical self-reliance goes out the window with the yachts, man.”

“You’re missing the point.”

“Maybe Burning Man shenanigans are falling victim to the systemic trappings they’re trying to undo: maybe this all started as an escalation of the Haight mentality, the sitting-around-the-campfire-smoking-a-joint-and-singing-kumbaya hippie dippie shit of the sixties, but it’s gone beyond that. We’ve hit a point of market inflation, and it begs the question…have we managed to bottle bohemia?”

“Wasn’t that a Thrills album?”

“Irrelevant and immaterial, your honour. Move to strike.”

“Let’s say you’re right and all of this is becoming a commodity. Let’s say this spectacular monolith, designed and constructed with the sole purpose of being burnt the fuck down, sent back to the scorched earth from whence, has been co-opted by the man. A commodity being something that can be sold…who benefits?”

“The lumber mill?”


“Acid dealer?”

“Don’t ask a serious question and then fuck about when I offer you a legitimate rebut. What you have is a gathering of like-minded people who want nothing more than to come together, celebrate radical inclusion and maybe draw attention to the fact that the world we live in isn’t the best version of itself it could be, you know? There are alternatives. What’s more wholesome than that?

“Otters holding hands while they sleep so they don’t drift apart.”

“There’s a point in every conversation where you stop being a cynic and you start being an asshole.”

“It’s a matter of serious consideration. Those otters are cute, man.”

“And consider it I will. I’m not worried, though. I was skeptical too, at first. But the flames will wash all of that away. At dawn, when all that’s left are ashes, it’ll be hard to be cynical. You’ll see.”

word by Josh Elyea

colour by Arne Quinze