STUPID UNDERGROUNDS - MANN
everything and leaves it all still in place, still functioning as if it mattered, never relieving us of its apparition, never pretending to go beyond it, draining it of value without clearing it away. That is why one cannot dismiss it according to the logic of the new, whereby the only admissible revolutionary force must conform to the movement of progress and innovation. The rhetoric of innovation is parroted by the stupid underground, because it still obeys the superficial form of the avant-garde. But it obeys it long after it is dead, and as if that death didn't matter, as if history had never occurred in the first place, as if everything retro just suddenly appeared, in all its original vacuity. As if it were even better, more powerful, once it is dead, so long as one insists that it is and pretends that it isn't. It is the blind repetition of every exhausted logic far past the point of termination that generates the most virulent negation. The stupid persistence of the dead has taken the place of the critical.
 Nothing could be more quintessentially American than the stupid underground. It is more basic, more historical, than all the structures and pseudo-guarantees of liberal democracy. If America as such can be mythologized as a nation of dropouts and a shadow underground of Europe, it also immediately begins to generate its own dropouts--a subunderground that is the "first" of the stupid undergrounds, of those who went "native," which is to say: disappeared. The stupid underground is the latest bordertown, the liminal scene of this disappearance, and of the becoming-imperceptible of American history itself. This history has always moved simultaneously toward the spectacle and toward the invisible; that is why there is a familiarlynative intensity to the figure of the solitary, hermetic hacker jacked into the so-called Net. It is also why two stories could be told by those who found this legend carved into a tree at Roanoke: "Gone to Croatan." The standard history text tells us that no one knows what "Croatan" means, that the settlers disappeared. But other accounts claim that everyone knew Croatan was the name of a local tribe, and the message quite clearly stipulated that the settlers had gone to join it; the official suppression of this fact is only a sign of the sort of