2020 will probably not be remembered as the Year of Cyberpunk, thanks to the instantly-infamous botched release of Cyberpunk 2077, the most-anticipated game in years whose promise of a deeply-immersive roleplaying experience in a technologically-supercharged hypercapitalist dystopian future was marred by, well, hypercapitalist strategies such as media manipulation, development crunch, and perhaps even a culture of artificial console scarcity. However, the genre’s resurgent relevance is no accident: in a country whose 21st century has so far been defined by 9/11, the 2008 recession, Donald Trump, coronavirus, and climate change, a cynical perspective of the future seems all but guaranteed. “The world you expected to be the future didn’t happen," said Mike Pondsmith, the creator of the original Cyberpunk tabletop roleyplaying game, in an interview with Wired. “We were supposed to get The Jetsons and instead we’re not sure if we’re gonna get fed."
In my previous blog post, I described the artistic impulse which I believe has permeated writing of all kinds since the earliest days of tablet-scratching. Short and simple, my argument was made as much, if not more, to myself as to any reader, because I have for years struggled with writing. It is deeply ingrained into my identity, but also, as I’ll describe later, I find the written word to be anything from mundane to profane, from useless to downright dangerous.
I feel the impulse to write. Why? Long-form writing is not at a premium these days; the proliferation not only of the Internet, but also sensationalized media, cataclysmic news cycles, and liberal arts degrees has sent the 21st century reader into a tailspin of posts, articles, think pieces, and other takes of varying temperatures, swirling in an unstoppable chain reaction of parries and ripostes as they follow Google and Facebook in their race to the bottom of the click dollar. For most of human history, literacy of any kind has been reserved for a select few individuals, usually for the purposes of business, administration, and faith; even in the Enlightenment and modern periods, during which literature of all kinds issued forth from printing presses at a rapid pace, the actual creation and legitimization of literature and periodicals remained largely the domain of the intelligentsia.