Alien Newsletter #2: The NFT Infestation
Wherein the Alien Attempts to Enter a Uniquely Homosapienal Cyberspace and Grapple with the Invisible Phenomenon of Digital Art and Manufactured Value
Network Note: As Thee Network continues to comb the airwaves for transmissions between the Alien we have found reporting on earthly activities to its superiors, we marvel at this entity’s ability to focus upon, however imperfectly, the portions of 21st century life that confound even those who have never known another planet, or another life. In its attempt to translate the phenomenon of Non-Fungible Tokens and the creative hysteria they have inspired amongst humans, it occasionally uses concepts and appeals to cultural lodestars familiar to its alien audience which will be undecipherable to most humans. However, NFT collectors and advocates do likewise, so who are we to judge?
Over the past month, the Greatest Apes have marveled and inquired over this malignant [untranslatable], created by a unassuming weaponsmaker named Beeple. Sold by the NYC auction house Sotheby’s for 64 million terrestrial value marks, it made international headlines and introduced the innovation of NFTs to anyone who was otherwise unaware. They have buoyed the hopes of the artist caste for greater autonomy from the larger ecosystem where they find themselves disempowered and exploited. They have earned opprobrium from critics who consider them an environmental blight and a poorly designed attributional matrix destined to collapse. And they no doubt may seem like horridly retraumatizing ZhSZZZssmmdds from the Age of Slawrbous Agony, such as the ones that almost decimated our population back when the Greatest Apes were still learning which side of the stick to cook with.
I assure you, however, that this Beeple monstrosity is merely a fascimile. It cannot take form and [untranslatable] as the ZhSZZZssmmdds did so long ago. There are other videos, pictures, trading cards, even bits of flatulence that have sold and resold for valuemarks quite astounding to consider, when taking a pandemic, a climate crisis and other bouts of ongoing human suffering into account. All of them exist within a technology-enabled universe called cyberspace, which obsesses about non-human extraterrestrial lifeforms but is surprisingly sparsely populated by them (I have found some particularly nefarious ones actively creating discord amongst humans - more about those in a future transmission.)
The exchange of valuemarks for the digital facsimiles of earthbound goods and services has existed for almost as long as the globally networked communications-and-noisemaking monstrosity the Greatest Apes call their Internet. Particularly in the games-and-leisure segment of this empire - which the Greatest Apes take with the utmost seriousness - all manner of non-physical items are bought and sold in specialized invisible territories created by their technologies, and they cease to exist outside of them. This came as a great shock to me, as I was hoping to send to you an extraordinary rendition of the mythological Tower of Babel entirely made in the shape of an ice cream sundae. I can assure you, however, it still exists in the world upon where I have bought it and it has not melted.
And just like most of what the Greatest Apes tend to value most, the initial projects dubbed as NFTs began as games played by the child in each one. Built atop the vast, presumably immutable record of transactions of valuemarks - referred to by the Greatest Apes as “cryptocurrency,” due to its use of cryptography to keep the otherwise duplicitous Apes honest - entitled the blockchain, early projects fleshed out a series of unique innovations that bestow ownership of an original version of creation by a digital artist or developer. From the best of what I can gather, since this is hard for me to interpret, but in 2017, a rogue posse of feral felines entitled Cryptokitties momentarily took over one specific cryptocurrency entitled ethereum and compelled all who gazed upon them to collect them, mate them and trade them for ungodly sums. Thus did the NFT infestation slowly begin.
This burst of brief insanity did not last forever, but it [untranslatable] for what humans are undergoing today. Those who call themselves artists began to see the potential power of gaining followings and deriving passive income from their playtime. Often, they find themselves going through interfaces and gatekeepers which rather arbitrarily inflate certain artists’ worth at events such as one in lower America best known for leisure imagination spaces and a curious sub-species of Greatest Ape entitled Florida Man. With NFTs, these artists continue to receive value from subsequent transactions and even sell ownership not just to one owner, but many different ones.
Finally, the fever broke through to the wider GA consciousness matrix this year, when several celebrated Greatest Apes entered into the marketplace, purchasing NFTs for all manner of tradable experiences, such as a prized moment of physico-athletic prowess (many different trading “cards,” the NBA TopShot being the most remarked-upon), digital lifeforms similar to the Cryptokitties mafia, animated art, musical compositions, &c. Those who have been seized by this infestation announce it proudly through announcements on their social media platforms and the proud display of their Slawbrous Agony shining through what used to be their ocular passageways.
Would that the Greatest Apes recognize what is transforming inside of the cores of their consciousnesses, but as is becoming clearer to me, the Greatest Apes take a perverse pride in maintaining their physical and mental ailments.
I do perceive that the move towards NFTs shows a fundamental shift in human consciousness away from the physical towards the digital abstract mode of their lives, accelerated by their current pandemic. As one of their own observers mentioned, it could steer the Greatest Apes as a collective away from centralized structures towards far more decentralized nodes of culture and organization. As always with the Greatest Apes, it starts out in fun and ends somewhere far different. Those survivors of the Slawbrous Agony will never be convinced this could go anywhere but ruin. The Greatest Apes, however, are on their own development curve, with only a vague sense of its endpoint. I argue that it should be altogether positive — although they will have to get their eyes checked at some point.
The hostile Zanderhoster species has fired another potentially disastrous asteroid upon earth, only for it to miss by about 1.25 million miles. The last time the Zanderhosters hit the earth, it triggered the Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction event, and the Zanderhosters are keen to repeat their successes. So far, they haven’t - yet.
As some of the more critical members of our council have remarked, the Greatest Apes are a messy bunch. The amount of galactic refuse, or "space junk,” as it’s referred to on earth, has become so omnipresent that occasional collisions are seen from earth as extraterrestrial visitations. An organization is already mobilizing to clean up future portions of space junk. It is a shame, however, that the vacuum of space does not yet have a vacuum cleaner.
Apparently even the doctors anticipate a moment when we will be amongst them, even if indeed, we already are.