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What is Alessandro Baricco’s “post-experience” in his essay The Game (2018)?

It is the experience as we have imagined it after moving away from its 20th century model. It is the experience attainable by using the tools of the digital insurrection. It is experience as a daughter of superficiality. … As your son seemed to be doing five gestures at the same time, all badly, all superficially, all in vain, here’s what was really happening: he was realizing one single gesture, unknown from us, and realizing it magnificently. He was using seeds of experience—prepared for a long time to acquire the synthetic, ultimate and complete attribute which only seeds possess—, he was crossing them and stacking them to ripen a vibration which would ultimately give him the privilege of a real experience. A post-experience.

Alessandro Baricco, The Game[^translation]

Surface becomes the (tiny) heart of experience derived from digital culture: each thing must be reduced to a monad of experience1 (simple, synthetic, ultimate, complete).

Post-experience is “the intelligent version of multitasking,” “using superficiality as a foundation of meaning,” “the technique of dancing on top of icebergs”. It is what the “new elites” of the 21st century are capable of; it is what characterizes their particular “form of intelligence,” an intelligence that consists of handling the tools quickly and fluently, but without understanding the things being manipulated—merely connecting them in order to produce, in such motion, something new; understanding the environment as an instrument of knowledge, but not knowledge itself.

It is an intellectual elite of a different kind, vaguely humanist, in which the discipline of studying has been replaced with the capacity of connecting dots, where the privilege of knowledge has been dissolved in that action and where effort of thinking in depth has been reversed to the pleasure of thinking quickly.

Alessandro Baricco

Reconfiguring, moving, multiplying: the new elites manipulate symbols, but without understanding them. Just like the ignorant operator in Searle’s Chinese room.

Just like a computer.

  1. Baricco uses the term “seeds of experience,” which is a well-sought metaphor. I prefer borrowing Leibniz’s terminology, the “monad,” to generalize his remark. ↩︎