Despite my continued efforts to breed a Technopagan offshoot that retains the positivist mindset of the original while also accepting the toxicity of the ultra modern world that we have now created, numerous interrelated events have forced my thinking towards darker things of late. Coupled with the lack of a defined spiritual patron this has resulted in me falling back into darker habits, notably those that many would consider taboo. The dead are ever present, and be they the spirits of long forgotten ancestors or glitches in the multidimensional simulation we collectively inhabit I remain attuned to their wavelength.
In retrospect, it could be claimed that technology and necromancy have a relatively long history together, life after death being a human preoccupation for as long as we have been sentient creatures. Recently the internet has spawned a brand new breed of ghost unique to itself – the dead Account. We all have one or two of these floating around cyberspace, games we no longer play but registered for, websites we never visit, passwords forgotten and fresh user names chosen to replace them. While we live they are nothing special. Once we die, however, they become a permanent anchor point in the digital world for those who would wish to work a little pop culture magick.
And yes, barring some global catastrophe or mass restructuring of the internet that involves the deletion of old, unused accounts to free up cyberspace, the deceased will very soon outnumber the living in this way. The digital astral is destined to become a place of dead names and even deader memes. Garbage in and garbage out as the old programmer’s saying goes, but this time feet first in a virtual pine box. Flesh rots, bones crumble and gravestones weather away, yet in the online realm the epitaph remains as fresh and vibrant as the day it was last accessed providing the power stays on.
Less than ten years ago the late Tupac Shakur performed at a major music festival in the USA. He was almost there in the flesh through the use of what was at the time cutting edge modern technology, dropping F-bombs aplenty among those who still drew baited breath in his messianic presence. Sure, this was no more a real ghost than the photo on a Facebook memorial page. Yet all that matters is that the lines have been blurred, thinning the veil in the minds of the general public as a result. Suddenly dead isn’t necessarily forever and the gone need not be forgotten, as long as you like non-interactive holographic video files projected onto smoke and mirrors that is.
Now I realise that a few of you may not see the connection between bastardising the likeness of a deceased rapper to sell prohibitively priced gig tickets and the real legions of the dead. But magick is a mindset, a way of viewing the world. The type of lens that you see through will ultimately be coloured by the path that resonates within your soul. As both Technopagan and necromancer my own cyberpunk inspired spyglass is as unique as they come, leading me to conclusions that many would avoid. If we are indeed on the cusp of a time when the dead need not remain so, most likely with the help of quantum computers and cutting edge artificial intelligence, then there is much to think about.
Those of a transhumanist persuasion interpret this digitised second coming as a partial fulfilment of their prophetic merging of man and machine. No doubt the more conservative among the Neopagan community are going to lament the excesses of a Western civilisation actively profiting from the dead, while more political occultists will pitch their tents in the grey area where the facial mapping techniques used for creating said holograms are turned instead towards making deepfakes to sow discord among the wider population. And Thelemites might be more intrigued by the idea of holographic Crowlies spouting his trademark brand of dubious wisdom from behind a table in their local opium joint than anything else.
What all this really means is a cheapening of the value of death, whereby those who are still valued by their financial backers can be forced to live on, at least in name, until every cent has been squeezed from their image. It is a bleak, unreal state of existence, tempered perhaps by the fact that the rich and famous cadaver at the heart of this modern Pepper’s Ghost remains unaware of how their likeness is being exploited. Innovation is all in the eye of the beholder, and the far from impartial expectations of the waiting audience always call the tune. Who would have guessed that the death slide towards technological dystopia would sound so interesting?