This is not a Fiction

Traduit par Ian Monk 


But, the worst thing of all, you see, which I must state before going through the criteria, is that the game is up, because they have already melted into our populations, into our everyday lives, they are in us and around us, they are in the substrate, in the shadows of walls and dispersed in pollen, you just have to see the amount of time we spend on being self-satisfied, crushing other people, believing we are original, not thinking, being clothed in a thousand colors behind our eyes and staying shutoff between us, between those equipped with chips, disfigured, glassy, caught right in the thick of it.

One day, I got fired from a think tank concerning the imaginaries of the future. As I’d signed a confidentiality agreement, I couldn’t say a word. How frustrating! It became an obsession. Something that consumes you from inside and which goes on devouring you all the more violently given that it is impossible to share it. Ten years later, the massacre is still there inside me. If I start thinking about it, I can see it all again. That feeling of injustice. A revolt against having been robbed of my work. Anger. The humiliation of being sidelined, and that anxiety about being alone to deal with it all. We live with the impression that the future which is blossoming is spontaneous, that it comes from us, in a kind of historical elan that envelopes everything. But it doesn’t. It’s piloted. Suggested. The top filters it all down. It selects. Of course, people have to obey. And endorse. The only solution I’ve found to get over it all is fiction. Tell it all in a fiction. In fiction, I can commit perjury. To hell with confidentiality agreements! My fears dissolve. The real value of a fiction is that it isn’t one. This means that, in fiction, I can be disloyal. I can display my cowardice. I’m not very brave.

This is amusing because, a couple of times at symposia, I quite seriously presented the results of my research. But, at the end of my presentations, I said they were all fictional. My colleagues then became irritated. They’d believed it all and then, quite suddenly, it was as if I’d pulled the rug out from under them. It felt like they’d lost all touch with reality. Colleagues are odd, they know nothing about the power of fiction. Or the reality of fiction. More real than real. You just have to tell it.

So, I’ll tell it.

From about 2010 to 2012, I was part of a group whose purpose was to imagine the world of 2050. Our surges of imagination were then sent to the fundraisers’ “fab labs.” Participants in this elaboration of the future included major players in the car industry, in new communication technologies, virtual reality and 3D simulations, luxury, video games and transfers from the military to the civilian world. These players were both money men and conveyers of creative contents about visions of the future. Other contributors such as artists, futurists and researchers seconded them. In all, around a hundred people took part. We regularly met up in creativity seminars where we produced designs, narratives, pitches, plays, living sculptures, waking dreams, poems, scenarios, and experimental videos about the world of 2050.

I’d been invited as a semiologist and sociologist. I was supposed to both observe the working process and analyze the contents of the productions. Sometimes, I contributed. I then adopted a posture known as a participant observation. I remember having co-written with another participant a short story about a new-world cuddly toy. It got lost in the labyrinths of the industrialists who had the right to dip into this manna so as to invent new services, products, technologies, concepts, and slogans.

In summer 2012, the management asked me to present my research. I wrote a report about all the tales and images of the future that had been elaborated over the past two years. I’d been given a hard drive in a padded envelope containing all their productions: there were several thousand of them.

I sent this report to the directors of the think tank on October 10, 2012.

From that date, I received no more invitations, neither to the operational committee which I was part of, nor to the creative sessions I took part in. My report was buried and I, de facto, was sidelined.

This work exists. It’s a document. I haven’t distributed it. It reflects the imaginary that the industrialists project themselves into. The most interesting point about it is no doubt whatever raised problems, but I know nothing about that because I was never given any explanation. My report wasn’t malicious, but what it expressed did not appeal. I’d placed a mirror behind these industrialists. They were horrified when they turned round. The image was genuine, and they were horrified. I’ve often noticed this, for example whenever you have to sell something, so long as you create a false image, all goes well. All the world’s a stage, said Shakespeare. But I actually like the stage.

What freaked them out? They seem to have fragile nerves. I’d conducted my work as usual, by taking down notes on the contents. Gradually, descriptive criteria came together. I’d often proceeded in the same way in the past. The director of the think tank had presided over my PhD thesis jury. He knew my work. That’s why he’d invited me. I’d produced dozens of articles, books, and gained an authorization as a research director, in which I’d applied the same semiological analytical method. My theory—if it is one—is based on fieldwork. It is founded on meticulous descriptions, case studies and exhibits. I have seriously analyzed large collections of varied materials, which mingle texts, sounds and images. For years, I was a theater critic for a feminist magazine called Lunes [Moons], which dealt with women’s careers in science, literature, politics, history, and art. I like talking about other people’s works. One of my masters is Siegfried Kracauer, the cultural sociologist who studied the cinema, everyday life, and the world of work, in Germany under the Weimar Republic.

I think that there’s a huge issue when it comes to understanding those who mold the world. And what imaginaries they base themselves on. What they flog us. How they acclimatize us. And what if we don’t agree? The secrecy that surrounds them poses a problem. A fait accompli doesn’t derive from the people. People are said to be the market demand. But the market demand isn’t the people.

I must point out that I’m not at all a conspiracy theorist. I think that we live in societies in which we can inform ourselves. The truth can triumph. We can’t be manipulated that easily. I’m just talking about what happened. I’m not drawing any conclusions. I’m exposing an imaginary. The fact is that it comes from enterprises and the experts, artists, and researchers they recruit. I took part in that. I’m no better than the others. In our production, there was no need for productivity or for any form of rationalization. Not at all. We were delivering quite simply our own imaginative projections. Our desires, wishes, hopes, without any barrier. We were free. But as soon as this was put into words, they said hell no.

Why this sudden fear? Was this a strength or a weakness? Did the colossus’s clay feet tremble? I don’t think so. I ended up making suppositions. That’s what was tough. In fact, I think that my report was insignificant. Worthless. I can’t imagine them being afraid. That would just be the fantasy of a little one who is scared himself and who believes that they, in the mirror there, are scared as well. But they couldn’t care less about fantasies. I’d put too much of myself in it. They wanted meaning. They eliminated me because it had become meaningless for me to stay with them. They didn’t tremble.

Yet, all the same, there’s a problem. For example, the world of 2050 was being imagined with a return of slavery. With no obligations, or from any overweighing economic necessity, just put quite simply like in Let’s imagine the future. The result was that a large proportion of the imaginaries of the industrialists, artists and researchers included situations that featured slaves. With the word “slave” used copiously. Quite literally. It wasn’t just: here we go, Dick the artist has sketched for us a dystopian world of shackled cyborgs. Not at all. Genuine product managers, developers, marketeers, engineers, artists, futurists, technicians, and scenario writers were opening their box of imaginaries. And, below the lid, a population of slaves was swarming. No one, at any time, said Hang on, isn’t there a problem here? They went off to work on their offers for our future without saying a word.

Another example. Maybe I’m just too sensitive and inflating this business. I’m not bullet-proof. Among the participants, there were representatives from the marketing departments in the car industry. Just when we were working, models of convertibles with heated seating were being shown in advertising spots. In the videos, you could see cabriolets with their roofs down driving through snowy landscapes with systems blasting warm air onto the passengers’ bodies and into the outside air. What about planetary warming? This was back in 2010–2012. There were slaves everywhere, but climate change wasn’t on the agenda.

There’s cynicism here which I find terrifying. I think I might be losing it if I compared all this to a crime against humanity. That’s why I’m expressing it all as fiction. Yet, quite honestly, I’m sure that this assertion is realistic. I’m just not brave enough to say it out loud. So, I’m stating it as a fiction. I don’t need to be that brave in fiction. I’d really adhered to the idea of liberating imaginaries through the use of art, in order to invent the world of tomorrow. Now, I see how irreconcilable that all is.

My report, which you’re going to be able to read, studies four characteristics which are broadly represented in these productions. To make my presentation less formal, I stuck a few labels on the entities likely to inhabit the world in 2050, according to our reflections: flarfs, voshes, follies, the accelerator of metaphors, the black petrel of the Mascarene islands which was thought to be extinct, Meine Trumpf, and Psalmonella. I closed my research with two criteria whose under-representation I had observed. What is missing is as revealing as what abounds. For a full vision of the world in 2050 coming from this think tank, I refer you to another fiction, Germinata, published by C&F Editions in 2021. At the moment I’m writing these words, I say to myself that for the past ten years I’d stopped thinking about all this, because everything had frozen up in my mind. But the way I was sacked corresponded to the dominant way of proceeding, as we had described it for 2050. For, in fact, it was already there: no discussion, a scorn for labor, brutality, then divergences after which you head off home, silent as a rock. All of which is a rather laughable staging of power. So it is that the future speaks of the present. It’s disappointing, but that’s the way it is. The future fits into how power is already being exercised. So, let’s go all the way. Let’s state the culmination of what is already there, by using non-fictional materials: an expression of the fashioning of identities, how we turn back into ourselves, with the violence of relationships, a play of masks and of an endless differentiation, in a rush towards innovation that makes for a tragic stability and technocapitalism, allied with art to fill up our eyes, as Fred Turner puts it so well in “L’art chez Facebook, une infrastructure esthétique pour le capitalisme de surveillance” [“The Arts at Facebook: an aesthetic infrastructure for surveillance capitalism,” in L’usage de l’art, de Burning man à Facebook, C&F Editions, 2020].

What this is all about is me picking myself up again thanks to the imagination, after an illness and spa treatment, based largely on the imaginary. I’m maybe too prosaic, too critical too, but I’m not going to hold back. Anyway, who cares? Present or future, ten years later, nothing much has changed. For example, last Friday, you should have seen how everyone dodged any controversial chat, which is another way to stay snug inside. So, last Friday, I finally twigged. I shut my mouth. Life is a learning curve. A meeting for the closure of an eight-year research program before a prominent funding agency and the six entities in the contract. A big budget, but also a caricature of what makes researchers take to the hills and the young give up, after being motivated to begin with, then broken halfway through the process. For an hour and forty minutes, the only people who spoke were the big wigs, who knew nothing about the work and hadn’t been in the field. After that, twenty minutes were left, at the end of the meeting, for those who had done the job to speak in a rush, in other words, no time at all: we didn’t talk about real progress, or the passions that guided the research. Among the evaluation criteria, all the money providers cared about was the trinity of carto / techno / computatio. Carto: what can be visualized in terms of cartography, tables, or schemas, with arrows and bullets? Techno: what have we managed to do using software? Though it remains a black box, with nothing said about its actual use. Chitchat about software is terrifying. New versions always make things easier than they used to be without software, or with other software, which is wrong. Computatio: what can be put into figures? Everything qualitative, or relational, or singular, all the real innovations, all the reality of the fieldwork, with the feedback, for example the relationship with death, affects, or doubts about identities, experimentations or revolts are obliterated: what goes with this, of course, is the sidelining of the people who did the work. And, sure enough, the people who actually did the work all toe the line. The little that is stated validates the process. Make no waves, even when the sponsor draws up a total number of publications for the six participants in the program which is lower than the number of publications of just one of them, or when he criticizes a lack of investigation, while there had been investigations. The bosses hadn’t passed on the real results, the real efforts, or the real successes of their teams.

No one said a word about such dysfunctions. Why? Because the point was to hang to every chance to get a new contract from the financial backer. No one had any interest in annoying anyone else. So, we stuck together: the operational staff with the bosses, the bosses with the big bosses, while between themselves the big bosses were greasing the wheels. This stood at such a distance from the field that it was like counting the dead, cartridges, meals, and the square meters lost during the First World War, or like the rout in 1940 with its batch of faulty transmissions and its lousy logistics: the reality of the fieldwork was unknown, there was an accumulation of errors, with strategies being framed in closed meetings mingling incompetence with a colossal scorn for the grassroots. The only solution we found was to collaborate with the enemy. Otherwise, judgments were made about anyone who was resisting. The work was not thought-out. It was a strange defeat which, however, provided the appearances of a magnificent victory.

I know, I promised, I’m supposed to be giving you the report that led to my dismissal. But firstly, while we’re on the subject, and regarding what I said earlier, about how the future always speaks about the present, I feel astonished that our authorities allow space programs to thrive while we still have problems that are incredibly hard to solve on earth. That should be our obsession: the reduction of waste, as much recycling as possible, the struggle against the decline of biodiversity, global warming, but meanwhile Musk and other agencies are spending vast sums to go into space while continuing to pollute the earth and make it even more unequal and inhospitable. It’s crazy, of course. Because, on Mars, if we need to go to Mars to escape from terrestrial dangers, it’s obvious that mankind won’t last long. There’s nothing worse than life conditions in space. We could, of course, transform the planet earth into something like Mars. There’s nothing worse we could do on a physical level. The only thing to run away from on earth, which could be better elsewhere, is mankind. Mankind fleeing from mankind and giving itself a few years of respite, that’s the space program, which “nourishes an imaginary of a catastrophe, while hoping for avoidability and envisaging escape routes thanks to which it would henceforth be possible for everything to continue as it was before” (in Collectif Stasis, Soigner la technologie ? [Curing Technology?], Montréal, co-édition Collectif Stasis / GRIP-UQAM (Groupe de recherche d’intérêt public — Université du Québec à Montréal), 2021, p. 190).

You might think, my dear friends, that I’m joining the tendency of “red woofters and green fascists”—because that’s how you express yourselves on your social media about a female politician, “Kim Jong Anne,” “that harpie with her hoards of red woofters and green fascists”—and you speak of “Nazi Land” about France in the era of Covid, and, my dear friends, on another occasion, it was me the “fascist” because I talked about negotiating. I can’t invite you to my dialogue sessions. When I tell you about them, you say I’m into “blabla diversity blabla discussion.” A year ago, you asked for the facts about global warming, because you were really annoyed with the scientists who spoke about climate change and, in 2021, you’re defending diesel. At the time, I said that it’s a fact, blueberries have now climbed a hundred meters up the slopes of mountain heights. A few exchanges later, I wept and asked for mercy. A year on, you’re still on WhatsApp making fun of me: “I don’t know if I’ve told you, you can get a very nice blueberry tart from the frozen food counter for 6 Euros. Did you know that? But I prefer blueberries in jam. The Many Lives of the Blueberry, that could be a title. With a warning: blueberries will bury you. Ha ha. Along with this fascinating question: the comparative lethalness of the lobster and the blueberry. Ho-ho.” You’ve made me weep several times. My dear friends with your degrees from the “highest,” “greatest” and most “superior” educational establishments, you’re the shame and the scum of the worst sort in the history of mankind. You are, with your obvious privileges, sowing scorn and war. Because you’re the best armed, you should take the high ground, but you don’t, you just pile on even more intolerance. You’ve never gone further than the hazing and the vile exclusion of those who are different that you carried out in your crammers and on your campuses. Forty years later, your noses are still buried in your tables of figures. You were chosen for that reason, and you continue to fill them up, believing that this is reality and that this gives you the right to hand out pure scorn. Shame on you.

I’m sorry. I’ve gone into a negative spiral. In comparison, my report, which I wanted to reproduce here, seems lightweight. I just don’t know how to handle the situation. But this is also because I have other work to do and, if I take to its conclusion this work which has been keeping me busy during the ten years that have passed since I left the think tank, I need to face the facts. It’s all far worse than in my report. Compared to where we are today, my report is a dip in a fountain in Disney Land, because the crises into which we are diving, yes, this climate of crises acts above all to avoid treating the real problems, and I’m not referring to Covid, but to how leaders constantly add more layers to our catastrophes and crises. But the real catastrophe and the real crisis are that discourses about catastrophes and crises only act so as not to deal with the real catastrophes and the real crises, while we go on above all not facing up to things.

The catastrophe and the crisis are that we always end up doing more of the same, thanks to the very discourse about catastrophes and crises which we are constantly being told we can’t escape from.

So, you think I’m dreaming?

Let’s take an example. Attali, the prince of councilors and the councilor of princes, the éminence grise of several presidents of the Republic, the former president of a bank himself, the author of over sixty-five books (how is that possible? I mean, he’s no Voltaire), has warned us that soon, in the world, there will no longer be a “pilot” and “even no longer a pilot’s cabin.” He, who has been in the pilot’s cabin for forty years, has told us that the crash has happened: “Evil seems to be winning everywhere,” “Favoritism and corruption are reigning all around,” “Rulers have and will have less and less power,” enterprises “only bring together a transitory staff, disloyal mercenaries, right up to the highest level of their headquarters,” “finishing off the destruction of States,” “We will witness the explosion of the commercialization of women and children,” “All the safety nets are being torn,” we’re living through the equivalent of the “dark and terrifying 15th century,” with its wars, epidemics, intolerance, “warlords,” “mafia bosses,” “religious fundamentalists,” “The world will be more and more like post-1991 Somalia,” “The world is dangerous and will be more and more so: violence is prowling all around us,” “Nothing more can be expected from anyone.” Hence his inexorable conclusion: you can now only count on yourself in a world that has become unbearable, “The time has come for everyone to take themselves in hand,” to “take power over their own lives,” to join the ranks of those who think that “their lives can become works of art” and, above all, “without expecting anything from the others.” This project has taken on the look of a “narcissistic quest for oneself,” the author recognizes. So here comes the monarch individual who lets nothing go. The deepest problem of modernity, struggling egos, focused on their success, looking for more and still more, with their little clan of fellows assailing our resources, fencing off land, moving into the stratosphere, colonizing the microscopic, sacking the conditions of life, the presiding Mega Extractor, the monarch ego, who is the problem, remains the final solution being sold to us by the elite. In this case by Attali, but also by many others, the Musks, Trumps, etc., without it ever occurring to them that, maybe, if this world should be avoided, then it’s in part down to them. Thanks to this kind of sleight of hand, we’re surely going to continue just as before. It’s obvious that Agriculture 4.0 and the leap into space won’t change anything about the endless hegemony of the ego until it bursts open from inside, cracking up its own rationale.

So, too bad for my report. I no longer want it and have run out of room. I’m now exploring the hypothesis of a great germination that will take over from the great extinction, which is delightful and totally unpragmatic, except when it comes to recognizing that such a spirit can be applied right now to little things like, for example, praying for wings.   

Flarfs are entities that place heterogenous elements in a relationship with an organic Everything. Flarfs are made up of collages of fragments taken from the environment, always very varied, each of its own species, taken in a waltz of separations and rapprochements with other various fragments in a common scene. A common space is thus found in a state of optimal resilience, because it includes maximal diversity. Flarfs can be ecosystems, in which each being is considered in its vital relationships with other beings that are absent or present, living or not-living. Flarfs include inert matter. They are inclusive physically—without any judgments. Flarfs can be diatexts, in the sense of dialogues between heterogenous texts. So flarfs are collages of texts, images and metaphors that circulate in the world. They reproduce the rumor of the world in a flood metamorphosis with neither an origin nor end. A poetic genre that breaks poetic genres. A collage of heterogenous sources, breaking all genres. They allude to the great collage of reality.


In 2050, an all-powerful vibe will govern human relations, rather than linguistic confrontations and mutual adjustment. Brutality is total. You force your way through or stay where you are. There is hardly any mediation using language. People shove, they don’t speak anymore, or practically. A variant of the all-powerful consists in ignoring others while letting them express themselves. No dialogue is engaged. Everyone speaks about themselves in a general indifference. Differences are seen through balances of power.

In 2050, the world’s inhabitants are force-fed with total power. This fantasy is present in any physical, intellectual, emotional, sensitive, military, economic or practical order. Applications flourish. The world is full of masters benefiting from slaves. One of the approaches of the all-powerful is their link to divinity, which provides ubiquity and supernatural powers, such as remaining awake for as long as possible, thus accentuating the performances of the best people. The power of control is limitless. The most favored masters attain immortality thanks to the ceaseless replacement of their bodily parts, thus justifying a radically dualist anthropology of the mind and body. Based on this conception of the autonomy of the body and mind, reboot programs of the body have been developed, into which minds can be instantly reconfigured in the new bodies that have been laid (delivered, procreated, machinated) using DIY ex-3D-printers, which are sophisticated and personal. These two movements are complementary: replacing a mind in a given body or replacing a body in a given mind. These powers open out unheard-of perspectives for all-powerful sentiments. Fear rises in proportion. Animal species also benefit from this increase in power. Wolves devour heroes, heroines and solitary hikers, without it being certain if these are wolves or humans or a crossing of both, or if this devouring has not become a simple sexual pleasure that is perfectly well admitted in the name of masters and censors. Bionic hips allow for the best swing dances for all ages. All girls become beautiful, all boys handsome, each and every one of them has a really nice little butt, frog-like thighs, wasp-like waists like Mick Jagger, as though one of the Immortals. Bodies are perfect, physiques at the summit. There is a perpetual pursuit to remain worthy of society, this is the reign of homo-maximus, a biomimetic Olympic race at every moment in a life. In a conquering society, it is not unusual for differences to be sorted out by physical death. You can see people broken into tiny pieces. You can discover sexual hells while they happen. You are submitted to ultra-violent hacks that are like rapes. IQs of 200 or more are produced and, in this generalized struggle, the best win. Words, molecules, plants, rare substances and concepts come under title deeds. So, there is a frenzied competition to enclose in protective meshes your own words, your own molecules, your own plants, your own rare substances and your own concepts, with your own name placed like a label as on the finest pieces, with courts and censors to decide, when there is a dispute, who owns what and whom, and who was the first to put a finger on a given word, given molecule, given plant, given rare substance or given concept in the current of the conquest of mankind by mankind. In the current of the conquest of mankind by mankind, bubblogarchy is the rule of “bubblologists,” those discourses placed in bubbles that float in the universe and that sweep away minds, that raise up adhesions, that refuel with self-justifying virtualities the enterprises that lead the world, whose success is based, apparently, on Pascalian wagers (because they are cultivated), which come down to, when it comes down to it, self-fulfilling speculations, like new viral religions and baroque rituals in which clicks manipulated like casino chips and purchases of audiences can crush any notion of truth. It is the reign of post-truth, in which no holds are barred. The fake is put on the same level as the factual: all that matters now is the fake. We no longer dance, we no longer talk about truth. Getting weaponized individually and fast is encouraged. Empowerment is limitless. Being all-powerful yourself is the ultimate criterion for justice. You have to take yourself in hand, adopt self-management, develop your capacities in a liberating solitude, because you can no longer count on anyone else. We’re right not to trust other people, states or the public, it’s too risky. In this solitude, you have to display your courage. You have to take control by and over yourself. The taking of control of other people’s actions affects all fields. Take love, for example, where it is common to hear two affirmations follow one another: X has power over Y, Y has power over X. Love is stifling. The masters and censors describe themselves as philosopher-kings. Spiritual guides. Cultural gurus. Bestsellers. The world’s best. They manage the world. They correct wrongs, hand out brownie points, they’ve presided over history and thought all on their own. They produce the fashionable, the popular, the dominant, the future. They are guarantors of values which they have put together, from a need to orientate the world. They direct by directing according to the principles that they have pronounced and which they guarantee thanks to the direction they provide: this is the absolute and accepted definition of total power. There is something about this like during preadolescence when you can do anything without being conscious of the risks for yourself or for others. Something like giving a hero status to the natural born killer. Mankind as a slave and technology in the service of the master come together to reintroduce what had become impossible because of the progress of morality, politics and the law. The return of slavery is presented as technological progress, thus total and irrepressible. The Other, who is different and weaker, is transformed into a slave by technology. Such people have the right to express themselves but are not listened to, there is no discussion about agreement or disagreement. They are just ignored. Technological hacking starts right from the first seconds of life in both biological and artificial uteruses. The supreme value becomes the all-powerful control of some allowing for the all-powerful freedom of others. Total control on one side, total liberty on the other. The superpowers stretch out over a totally complex-free society. No more disease or poverty for those who enter this schema, either from voluntary obedience or from unbridled willpower.


1. Plural of folly

2. A highly entertaining theatrical, musical revue, usually with the presence of stars and a huge cast, with rich costumes, sets and lighting. The big shows in Las Vegas could be described as  follies.

3. Follies are cyber servers born from the explosion in the diversity of life forms after the Great Extinction.

4. By extension, all the life forms that inhabit the planet Earth at the current stage of its evolution.

5. By extension once again, any creation with an imaginary dimension, such as an hypothesis, a possibility or an anticipation, filling the gap between knowing and not knowing.

6. For its final meaning, follies are entities that create follies.


In 2050, human beings project themselves into roles, into bodies and into memories which are not originally their own. They wear masks, even when the masks are their own faces. They change them like shirts. They dress themselves with their sentiments. They display them like uncontrolled emotions, even though they are purely rhetorical. They master them just as actors adopt roles. They handle themselves like puppets.

The world’s inhabitants in 2050 are wonderful actors. There is no more authenticity, pretension to the truth, discussion of reality, access to being, passion for the world, concern for others who are, nevertheless, really there in front of you. There’s now just a mash of shams and lies, post-truths and assumed antiquities. This is particularly clear for those who are in a position to communicate in public, on networks, in the great digital fairgrounds, on screens and in 3D universes. And so, there are no more common spaces. Everything comes down to appearances, a series of numbers on a huge stage as big as the world with its flow of troublemakers, big mouths, din makers and showmen. In this grand worldwide reality show, the potent manipulators of signs and narrators of any old falsehood, so long as it’s convincing enough, are in power. Human beings project themselves into animal bodies, atoms, heavenly bodies—either enhanced or diminished. They dissolve themselves into a round of masks and intermittent identities. They change their identities. They narrate their lives like novels, a communication strategy, an image, an autofiction. They fabricate the perception that others have of them, which is all that matters when it comes to stating who they are. They enhance themselves into cosmonauts and gods of war. They take on the appearance of young women or young men, children or the elderly, if they want. All avatars are in stock. Especially all the avatars of people who are known in the media, including the dead. The veil that provides for desire is extended over the slightest contact. Any contact is always media fodder. Loads of masks of clowns, of joy, of masquerades and of happiness are in circulation. Large parades of weapons are organized with fashionable celebrities becoming cannons, devastating robots, lethal microbes, strike lasers, undetectable drones, long-distance gene mutators, etc. You can transport yourself into an image, or into another body. There’s no more talk of television, but of videotactiling: you touch the visuals by entering into the skins of the creatures that emerge from the screens. The word “cyborg” is no longer used. It has been replaced by “vosh.” No one knows the origin of this word, which then led to the term “voshing.” Voshing consists in interacting with a vosh by becoming a vosh yourself. Intravoshing consists in becoming yourself a terrain of voshing-like intrarelations. A vosh is a slave which may or may not be human or a machine. Everyone can become a vosh intermittently. The mystery of creation has been unveiled. Everyone can create themselves. Blood groups, eye colors and iris signatures can be manipulated with ease. Heads are covered with living sea anemones that are tactile for the host. Visions are projected directly from our deepest interiors, rather than being received from the exterior.

accelerators of metaphors

An entity that is little known except by its name, which conveys the effect of accelerating words and images. Having much to do with the hectic behavior of signs. An effect which becomes even more powerful by dint of talking which adds to the effect. Being silent, too. Exiting it presupposes emerging at once from acceleration, metaphors and signs. In other words, it is impossible in the current hegemonic calibration.


In 2050, human beings have buried themselves in their inner worlds. They are connected to their sensations and emotions as though to a vital flow. The life of feelings, psychic intimacy and the actual body are expanding like the universe. They increase the capacities of both humans and non-humans in every direction, in all their facets and in each of their parts. Their individual and collective affects move mountains.

The inhabitants of the world in 2050 live in a constant emotional tide. They “sense” their knowledge, which becomes “sensitive.” They “feel” their intelligence, which becomes a “generalized emotional intelligence.” A great stream that dissolves everything. The flow of our emotions and of our feelings is valorized as the source of everything else. The world and other people are ingested both physically and psychically. They are devoured by each person’s inner world. Multisensoriality is heightened and the actual body is disseminated in all directions, in all its facets and in each of its parts, like the atoms of the prebiotic soup. There are many orgasms, in a great fusion, a collective fusion, a meta-fusion, a meta-physique and a hyper-physique, just as can be intuited from the one and only primal soup. Relationships with the self, others and the environment are dissolved into the great stream of perceptions. Lungs are informational, food intellectual, ingestion multimedia. Everyone can embody themselves in the motions of nature. Everyone, if they want, can be one tree or all trees. Everyone has the capacity to sense others’ personalities, thanks to a vital flow that crosses through us, according to a model of biological power which has integrated the world’s psychic, spiritual and conscious forces. Pleasures are fully sensorial and at the same time fully intellectual. They are dreamlike and sexual. Fears are strong, and even stronger is the temptation to scare yourself, as in a horror film. Cognitive enhancements provide us with a profusion of new sensations and cognitions. Individuals become contents which urban organization benefits from directly and others can access as they want. The memories of ancestors can be vampirized. On our retinas, our schedule is displayed, like a projection of our minds, like a living layer of technology which turns into us. We wear our deepest selves, we wear a second skin which is more us than any other previous self. We make the most of the present instant with our bodies, flesh and emotions which are so strong that they bear us away, in symbiosis with everyone’s emotions which everyone interiorizes, in all their facets and in each of their parts. This affective and emotional bath takes us into a uterine world. Emotions there are ultra-violent, affect is ever-present, in an essential, unique, elementary soup. There is a conscious takeover of reason by the emotions, we give ourselves over to generalized pleasure in each of our parts, including the most inner ones, down to the atoms of our spleens and our synapses. The sensors of all our senses transform us into enormous emotional chimeras. We reach this through desire, by all the memories, by all the matters, and by all the recollections that mingle together, entering into resonance with the rhythm of the animalistic, of foam and of water. The duration of the self, being and the universe are at one with the latitude of creation which finds its place in a generalized intra-action. Our ultra-fine, hyper-empathetic hearing makes us want the world in every direction, in all its facets and in each of its parts. The self-engendering of everything in everything puts us in an inner and direct contact will all of reality, and we live in a perpetual state of inward adventures, our travels are constant and are all, following on one from another, in every direction, in all of their facets and in each of their parts, the most wonderful journeys, and nostalgia itself, are transmuted into living, present, direct, corporeal and active experiences, because our connection with the memory of the world is absolutely active. We gather information like atoms. Our sixth and seventh senses lead us ever farther in our sensation of the world. Reflection is not a priority. Thought does not interpose itself, help to keep a distance, or adopt a posture of reflection, criticism and comprehension. Our bodies, our feelings and the fragrances that strike us have that diffuseness in every direction which characterized the elements in the primal soup thriving on their memobesity—an obese memory in every direction, in all its facets and in each of its parts.


Measurement entities based on the landscape and on bodies that conduct an economic, conceptual and moralizing way of sorting, which controls entries and exits, they receive tolls during any such passages.


In 2050, we stand out, we are differentiated, always somewhere else than where we are expected, in a tension with what’s common, with stereotypes, with norms, with hierarchies, with genres, with institutions and with structures. Singularities create gaps, already between themselves, then from reality. A rupture with the existent is a dominant value, including self-to-self relationships. Life technologies bring in ruptures right down to genetic and epigenetic evolution.

The inhabitants of the world in 2050 allow themselves to adopt many discrepancies from the norms. They innovate. They’re different from other people. They become singular. They go away on a tangent as soon as anything displeases them, resists them, or puts a spanner in their appearance of ultra-control. They are rowdy. They stick out. They ignore anything unpleasant. They avoid awkwardness. They either play hide-and-seek with authority, or confront it violently. Killjoys are brushed aside but, at the same time, valued. Deviance has become generalized. They practice anti-conformism. The point is always to produce something new, a revolution, or change. Extreme singularities break all the rules. They take power by things that are unexpected, disconcerting and radical. They need to sell their originality as a substitution product for everything that exists. Being successful presupposes working outside borders. They need to overtake otherness, just as you might learn a foreign language. Flesh is fragmented. Out of the box. Decapitation becomes a symbol for all artistic creations. All situations are submitted to de-framing. Phenomena disintegrate from the effect of a constantly increasing acceleration. Stepping aside is the most common image to symbolize a life that invents itself at each moment. Any new event is created in a rupture, new generations breaking away from the old, new ideas breaking away from the old, new people breaking away from the old, new technologies breaking away from the old, new behaviors breaking away from the old. The simple act of identical reproduction produces aberrations, monsters, the unexpected, the impossible. Even cloning produces differentiation: clones break away from clones. Self-invention happens through dynamic self-hybridization (for example, your own ears instead of your own nose) and through interventionist heterotrophy (for example, pelagic hair, the grafting of anemones’ tactile feet onto the skull). The correctors of reality and conversions to fiction produce differences from any given data. The loss of the notion of death means being able to envisage an infinite process of individual and transindividual differentiation. There can even be envisaged a way out of the human species by breaking away, or else on the sly.

black petrel of the Mascarene islands

Supposed to have disappeared for many years. Entered into an intrika with Psalmonella. Petrels are nocturnal sea birds which nest on islands, on the summits of steep mountains, or on inaccessible cliffs. An infrequent sight. They are often only heard at night. That is how it is known that the petrel of La Réunion still existed. Its song is quite incredible, like the cry of the Nazgûl. Heard in the making of the reconstitution of the congress of false seekers of vanished sonorities, by David Christoffel, produced by Angélique Tibau, for public radio.


In 2050, according to the productions of FUTURE LAB, there is little talk about work, of objectives or actions set in a society. The delegation of work to non-human entities raises problems of subsistence and ethics for many entities. Some free themselves from all this happily, or painfully, but elsewhere than in labor.

For the inhabitants of 2050, “tasks” seem to have disappeared. Production seems to be a matter of course, with no need for being conducted, led, organized, nor really performed by humans. If such occupations exist, they are invisible, or not brought to the public’s attention. It all goes on elsewhere, out of sight, under the control of non-human beings which are neither depicted nor named. Tasks are executed by cyborgs, robots, or voshs, described as “slaves.” No human control is presented in any representations of such stories or situations, except when it comes to very highly placed positions, at the top of the pyramid. While work has not disappeared, almost no one talks about it, draws it, depicts it, sings of it, extols it, or claims it. It is known that weapon sales bring business, and thus work, but it is not known who for. In this upcoming world, work is not taken on as a personal, accepted, liberating mission, but is regulated by the manipulation of large concatenations of anonymous numbers and by extremely unequal balances of power. Unemployment (anything that is defined by a precise task, requiring close attention, which is remunerated) seems to constitute the everyday existences of the central characters in FUTURE LAB’s narratives. They have freed themselves from the chains of work and now mention only the liberation from work. They drift off to islands without jobs. Enthusiasm is not often raised by a fine deed, a beautiful object, a lovely tool or time well spent. Such eccentricities have been replaced by capsules of skills, capsules of actions and capsules of resolutions which are ingested and placed in organs like medication, called pharmaka. Nano-interventions on the psyche guarantee the fluidity of activities. All the interstices have been filled in and provide a continuity within zapping. The spirit of autonomy, initiative, happiness and cooperation is inoculated at a very young age. Smiling becomes mechanical. Being yourself, ad hoc or happy replaces the notions of a task, executive or work. Being yourself, ad hoc or happy is now a currency. Anything unpleasant is delegated to machines, including the definition of the borderlines between the pleasant and the unpleasant.

Meine Trumf

A behavioral myth. Particularly active during the phase of extinction prior to the Great Germination. An imaginary entity presenting itself as a manual of good advice to succeed in modern life. A synthesis of a mass of bits of advice which are in fact broadly circulated, hawked by numerous authors-broadcasters-transmitters-translators. This accumulation of messages creates structure. Hard to escape from.


In 2050, there is not much discussion. Not even arguments. Coordination by linguistic processes has almost vanished. The fusional model guarantees harmony, in a succession of adjusted automata. Otherwise, it’s war or the law of the strongest. Paradoxically, if there is little space for any discussions oriented towards an agreement about the creations of FuturE Lab, many controversies break out between its members about these productions.

For the inhabitants of 2050, there are few linguistic confrontations between beings. What dominates is either all-powerful actions against others (brutality and violence), or a sort of bodily and emotional mishmash, which is orgasmic and fusional, maintaining a direct relationship with otherness (ingestion), or else there is a kind of automatic adjustment (as in the formation of schools of fish). Whatever the case, there is little room for discussion between distinct adults having reached the age of majority, with separate bodies, who sound each other out, rubbing up against words and with words, possibly encountering conflicts, which they could solve through a reciprocal adjustment, by trial and error, via the collaborative resolution of problems, by the collective construction of criteria for action, by a discussion between the main interested parties, and by crossed interpretations. Compromise is a strange notion, which rings out like a capitulation. If argumentation is deployed, it changes nothing at all. If cooperation exists, then it seems as fitting as a fusion, an automatic adjustment, a V-shaped flight that takes form instinctively (wild geese). If information circulates, it is not really heeded or taken into consideration. The greatest submission to the system produces coordination. The balance of power is a given which does not need discussion for it to be exercised. If there is any discussion, it is forgotten at the moment of the decision, which is still taken by the most powerful, the most stubborn, the deafest, the nuttiest, the most frenetic. The discrepancies that are multiplied virally never lead to a reciprocal confrontation, or else just as a simulacrum of democracy. Intolerance has disappeared: all that matters is ignorance of others.


A particularly resilient being. Time has almost no hold over her. She has survived epidemics, from which she earned her nickname—taken from a bacterium, salmonella, which is toxic: as though only a poison could survive a poison. She was the subject of laboratory experiments which attempted to isolate her antibodies. But she eluded them. It seems that, previously, she was part of FUTURE LAB’s team, even though there has been no official confirmation of this. Her name does not appear on its mailing lists, which proves nothing, because she might have changed it. She survived a helicopter crash. As of the 2060s, as she desired, two wings grew on her back, in addition to her arms and legs. She is an aerobatic ace. She can follow puffins, gannets and petrels across raging seas. Thanks to intense training, she can easily move around in a vertical habitat. In 2080, she hadn’t been seen for 15 years. She is believed to have disappeared. However, her song was heard again one night. Her wings make and unmake intermittent configurations.


To sum up, in 2050, according to the arithmetical approach of FUTURE LAB’s productions, the world is stuffed full of ultra-violent dictators, small and big, all plugged into their little interior, hyper-emotional, clownish worlds, who take delight and are delightful, permanently on show, masked, with an instant spontaneous differentiation in all directions, they are arbitrary, devastating for others, seducers and full of themselves, seeking out more power for themselves, selves, selves.

For the inhabitants of 2050, regimentation is total. There is no freedom for any public discrepancies, taken on as such, in the construction of a common world. Beings accept this state of affairs by falling back on personal withdrawal, egotism and external amusements, immersive games, or carnival times that do not threaten the established order. Cultural differentiation is like a set of rattles used to pass the time. Individual inwardness and the projection into masks provide a kind of benign compensation for uniformization and a thirst for authoritarism that reigns everywhere. Freedom is confined to an inner flight and farandoles in which people can play any role, but it is never expressed head-on in actual social relations, the places of decision and work, in interpersonal, friendly or loving relationships, human experiences, from which discussion has been excluded. The most unbridled egoism explodes in places where it has no consequences, in other words, individuals looking at themselves in private or puppets making a spectacle of themselves, which no one takes seriously, which are accepted as inoffensive clowns, providing a local income, in a nestled space, with no effect elsewhere. In this world, there are no confrontations seeking each other out or seeking out others. Discrepancies never enter into a real, public, committed, frank adjustment, which would lead to the progressive elaboration of a shared world. Discrepancies widen in a general indifference. No mention is ever made of a social contract or common good or an agreement constructed intersubjectively that would unite the stakeholders in sharing, around an explicit zone, to be co-elaborated. They are one and all buffeted between separation (self-withdrawal, masks) and fusion (standing under authority). The role-playing and the discrepancies are counterbalanced by fusion in the great Everything, through dedifferentiation towards laws and some general, enveloping, totalizing functions, by ultra-powerful though unstated norms. Work has disappeared to be replaced by a diffuse availability of capsules of skills, capsules of actions, capsules of resolutions, or capsules of citations that act like implants—either in a catalogue, or composed on request, “tailored” according to the accepted formula, even though it is unclear if being “tailored” corresponds to anything real. There is some doubt. It could be that the “tailor-made” discourse conceals the generalization of a standardization that channels desires and potential into a small number of perfectly framed, reproducible options, of a great poverty, with no invention, with no adjustment to use, or improvement towards daily life. Common experience becomes instead never being able to talk to anyone so as to invent, adjust or improve anything at all. Problems are not put on the table for concertation. Genuine encounters, in which there is a co-elaboration, are hard to incite. There is instead a teeming of autistic sales—sales of yourself, of concepts, of discourses, of skills, of references, of portmanteau words and of privatization. The wall of technology, of computing and of mediatization has been interposed between humans.


An advanced form of videolatry which means being able to see an image while having the impression of moving with it, feeling movements as if you were making them, and touching them.


Voshing is a form of interaction involving at least one vosh. Initially, voshing was the jewel in the crown of the leisure industry. It means being able to hold videotouching sessions with beings of flesh.

Ce projet a reçu le soutien de l’École Universitaire de Recherche ArTeC portée par la ComUE Université Paris Lumières et du Groupe Stasis