After assuming the mantle of Steve Jobs, Elon Musk wants to join Donald Trump in making space great again. The Daily Devil’s Dictionary explains.
Readers may have noticed our attraction for Elon Musk, who can be counted on to throw out a hyperreal idea or engage in a hyperreal act. He has just claimed his position as the heir of Steve Jobs, the ultimate superhero of business hyperreality. In ordinary times, this could have made him the undisputed world hyperreal champion. But even Musk can’t compete with Donald Trump for that title, given the degree of impact the president’s hyperreal behavior has on the consuming and voting public.
Making his claim that Apple is the past and Tesla is the future, Musk presented his case: “Apple used to really bring out products that would blow people’s minds.” He added, “I think with Tesla, we really want to make products that people just love, that are heart-stopping.”
Here is today’s 3D definition:
Causing shock, instant death or simply having the power to persuade consumers to buy a product because of its trendy design and the fact that possessing it induces them to believe that they now belong to an elite class
Musk reveals his scale of values when he identifies “heart-stopping” and “mind-blowing” as the criteria that distinguish great products. Telephones and cars have existed for over a century and have been valued for their usefulness: telephones for communication and cars for transport. When the ultimate goal of consumerism is a heart that has stopped and a mind that is blown, we are clearly in the world of hyperreality.
This tells us something essential about the relationship between hyperreality — focused on money, dominating power and the manipulation of desire — and reality, which for most of humanity is about survival, balance and, if possible, harmonious social relationships. Putting money, power and unleashed desire first reveals what we have become, what the planet has become and why wealth inequality is on the rise.
In the same interview Musk states, “I have a strong interest in the truth,” which is an interesting way of affirming his commitment to hyperreality. Either it’s a tautology — because everyone is interested in the truth — or it’s an admission that what interests him is primary and the truth, secondary. This becomes clear when the interviewer mentions a simple truth, that Musk has “a fan base that’s quite rabid.” Musk replies, “No, I wouldn’t say that … I think they’re great.” Rather than engage critically with a statement that claims to be true, he simply denies it because it doesn’t represent the kind of truth he’s “interested” in.
This part of the interview, concerning the media and truth, reveals how close Musk’s approach to reality is to Trump’s. This should hardly be surprising as they are proponents of the same hyperreal culture.
There can be no doubt that Elon Musk is a technical genius, a brilliant designer and a stunningly seductive pop visionary. But, like Donald Trump, he suffers from the worst defect of true narcissists: the absolute inability to perceive that they are narcissists.
Hyperrealists want history to resemble their distorted vision of the past and future history to reflect their ambitious vision. Musk uncritically defends Trump’s project to create a new branch of the army to be called the Space Force. He explains why: “Well, this may be a little controversial, but I actually like the idea. I think it’s cool.” Obviously, the reasons why it’s controversial — expense, imperial ambition, the further militarization of science — doesn’t interest him. In hyperreality, if something is “cool” there can be no controversy.
Astonishingly for a man born and raised on the African continent, his vision of American history is that of an American schoolchild. To justify, without acknowledging, the essentially military ambitions of Trump’s Space Force, Musk invokes “a country like the United States, where you know it’s kind of the distillation of the spirit of human exploration.” Rather than reflecting on the conditions that led to that distillation — a system of slavery accompanied by seizing of resources and the physical, cultural, ideological and technological means of genocide against the native population — he sees only the vaunted activity of for-profit exploitation of those resources as proof of the “spirit of human exploration.”
It’s a renewed version of the ideology of manifest destiny that underlay the racist genocide of the 19th century. He explains his reasons for defending the Space Force: it’s “basically defense in space. And then I think also it could be pretty helpful for maybe expanding our civilization … You know, expanding things beyond Earth.”
Defense of what? And expansion of which civilization? It goes without saying that Musk is talking about his third nationality, after leaving his former South African and Canadian nationality behind: American civilization.
Now that Elon Musk has taken over the iconic position held by cult leader Steve Jobs, he can be the visionary to guide America to its heart-stopping and mind-blowing conquest of space as a means of sealing from above its conquest of an increasingly ailing planet Earth alongside that other hyperreal hero, Donald Trump.
*[In the age of Oscar Wilde and Mark Twain, another American wit, the journalist Ambrose Bierce, produced a series of satirical definitions of commonly used terms, throwing light on their hidden meanings in real discourse. Bierce eventually collected and published them as a book, The Devil’s Dictionary, in 1911. We have shamelessly appropriated his title in the interest of continuing his wholesome pedagogical effort to enlighten generations of readers of the news.]
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Fair Observer’s editorial policy.
For more than 10 years, Fair Observer has been free, fair and independent. No billionaire owns us, no advertisers control us. We are a reader-supported nonprofit. Unlike many other publications, we keep our content free for readers regardless of where they live or whether they can afford to pay. We have no paywalls and no ads.
In the post-truth era of fake news, echo chambers and filter bubbles, we publish a plurality of perspectives from around the world. Anyone can publish with us, but everyone goes through a rigorous editorial process. So, you get fact-checked, well-reasoned content instead of noise.
We publish 2,500+ voices from 90+ countries. We also conduct education and training programs on subjects ranging from digital media and journalism to writing and critical thinking. This doesn’t come cheap. Servers, editors, trainers and web developers cost money. Please consider supporting us on a regular basis as a recurring donor or a sustaining member.