Sibylle Berg’s novel “RCE”: hyper nervous, brutal, stupid – culture

Sometimes a revolution fails because people do not want to be saved. So it was at GRM Brainfuck, Sibylle Berg’s latest dystopia, published in 2019, in which a group of poor urban digital nerd in London threw their devices out the window and mobilized against the full oversight of post-Brexit society. But their fellow citizens had already learned to record their lives directly from government and mega-corporations and were even a little happy that someone was watching it at all. But if no one joins, it is not a revolution.

In one of the interviews that Sibylle Berg gave for “RCE”, the continuation of dystopia, he recently said that he could not let the uprising fail so quietly and without words. So now “RCE”, “#RemoteCodeExecution”, and that means: Young hackers launch a second attack on capitalism with the plan to throw everything into chaos one after the other with a super hack from banking platforms to moms’s blogs .

“People had lost track of their dead”

A revolution comes in three: analysis, propaganda, mass unrest. In terms of content, this would roughly describe the novel. The subtitle of the last book also fits the language recipe of “RCE”, viz. “GRM”. Again, you take the story of the revolutionary friends transmitted as a “trumpet”: sharp, sharp sentences, hurried elises, incessant punches, images of disgust and horror, eagerly linked to the highlights of a turbo-capitalism in which even the last part of the welfare state is privatized and even the terminally ill communicate only with bots in their plight, while placing their hands on themselves during the live explanatory video.

Which brings you to the first part of the three steps, the analysis. The novel takes place in a European post-banking crisis, the main actors are known by reality. Peter Thiel is also making venture capital here, Elon Musk did not buy Twitter, but bought a host of other things, and Bill Gates’s investment strategy has made him the largest landowner in America. In general, most of the investors mentioned by their names can be searched in the Forbes list, and if you want to know exactly, you can also use the dictionary attached by “Aladdin”, the BlackRock data analysis system, to “Wirecard”. “, the alphabet of technology – and look at financial capitalism.

Sibylle Berg: RCE – #RemoteCodeExecution. Novel. Kiepenheuer & Witsch, Cologne 2022. 704 pages, 26 euros.

(Photo: Kiepenheuer & Witsch)

In Berg’s apocalyptic financial feudalism, only a few people have a legal personality, others vegetate their ankles on the outskirts of the city in handcuffs, “measures still spitting: competition, competition murmured when they were debating the best sleeping cardboard night. “. Several rounds of tax increases for the poor and tax exemptions for the rich, the dusting of the social budget and all social security systems have empowered the everyday workers society. Five million of the deprived have already died from insufficient supply. “People had lost track of their dead. The corpses born from escapes, landslides, hurricanes, civil wars, cold winters and hot summers, from hospital germs.” In the midst of these disasters, investors, CEOs and corporate owners fly around the world when they are not exercising their sharp bodies or watching animal pornography.

Between the scenes from the corrupt capital society, there is also a kind of conspiracy – keyword propaganda and mass mobilization: a large-scale hacking strategy is planned and implemented, an even newer, digital and smarter crack protection against the crack capital. If the “friends” are going to succeed in doing so, it will have to be seen in the next book of the series, which has been created as a trilogy, because it breaks down right after the “event”. Instead of a new world order, “RCE” describes riot plans, “mixed peer network” strategies, platform analysis, coded eavesdropping procedures, and generally many things that can only be understood with much self-study.

But if you try to put things right by retelling, you lack the substance and so the reason why “RCE” is not an ordinary revolutionary novel tuned to stupid vocabulary. Because how else should literature relate to an unmanageable financial-political situation, to the clashes that no one seemed to have foreseen and to an indisputable economic dogma that growth always leads to good, while crises fly around your face, but in this crackling aesthetic of the prevailing?

Nor do revolutionaries manage to have a friendship

Financial economics has an imaginary character. For example, stock prices meet expectations, and expectations are forecasts based on a story, on fiction. In the financial world, unreal quantities are traded, such as licenses that are goods, but not the goods themselves. Art, literature respond in exchange with a fictionalization of the financial world, with an aestheticization of numerical concretism. This is what Elfriede Jelinek did when she associatively combined endless monologues about financial flows in “Die Kontrakte des Kaufmanns”, or the performance team “Rimini Protocol”, which she invited to the general meeting of Daimler AG.

Sibylle Berg’s literature also has a strong theatrical bias. She has written 27 plays to date, but many of her novels are read as if they were intended for the stage from the beginning. In the “RCE” fist line, the usual exaggeration, roughly 500 scene changes seem occasionally silly or megalomaniacal. But that does not change the fact that being overwhelmed does not hurt the hyper-nervous feeling of the present.

But what do you do with the knowledge from the novel? There is no light in darkness, only death, annihilation, nor can revolutionaries be friends. It’s probably the same as with all the technological and financial dystopias that work: you get a little scared, maybe delete one or the other app, but soon install again. In other words: At best, yes, that would be something, a very important university would give the author an honorary doctorate for her services in crisis economics and applied disaster psychology. Which in turn would be a drastic increase in the cultural capital of Sibylle Berg. Who then immediately goes on to write and, in the best of moods, could tell this episode just as insanely as the so-called reality is.

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