Down to Navigation Controls

Panic Encyclopedia

by Arthur and Marilouise Kroker

The Panic Encyclopedia is an A - Z journey through a new post-modern alphabet. Each letter has a series of short entries on various subjects beginning with that letter: "A"s = Panic Ads, Panic Art, Panic Architecture. The text is as out of control as the subject matter. Some entries are sharp, cogent, insightful; others are thick, clunky, with impenetrable pomospeak. Taken as a whole, the Panic Encyclopedia is a perilous road trip through the heartland of the American simulacrum.

Here's how the authors describe it:

"The Panic Encyclopedia is a frenzied scene of post-facts for the fin-de-millenium. Here even the alphabet implodes under the twin pressures of the ecstasy of catastrophism and the anxiety of fear. From panic art, panic astronomy, panic babies and panic (shopping) malls to panic sex, panic perfect faces, and panic victims. THIS is the post-modern alphabet. alphabetical listing of empirical facts about the modern condition, but a post-alphabetic description of the...dissolution of facts into the flash of thermonuclear cultural "events" in the postmodern situation."

And, if all this is too much for you, you can proceed directly to "Panic Xanax," the all-too-popular drug for "panic disorders." Panic Relief!

(G. Branwyn)



Panic Encyclopedia
Arthur and Marilouise Kroker
St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Ave.
New York, NY 10010
1989, 262 pgs, pb, $13.95

Here is the TEXT POPUP for Panic Encyclopedia ...

As the dark, reverse and imploding side of all the modernist encyclopedias, Panic Encyclopedia begins with the fateful discovery in contemporary physics that ninety percent of the natural universe is missing matter, just disappeared and no one knows where it has gone (physicists most of all). Panic Encyclopedia argues that with the triumph of science and technology as the real language of power in post-modern culture, that ninety percent of contemporary society is also missing matter, just vanished and that no one knows where it is gone (sociologists most of all).

Between ecstasy and fear, between delirium and anxiety, between the triumph of cyberpunk and the political reality of cultural exhaustion: that is the emotional mood-line of Panic Encyclopedia. Here, in fact, panic has the reverse meaning of its classical sense. In antiquity, the appearance of the god "Pan" meant a moment of arrest, a sudden calm, a rupture-point between frenzy and reflection. Not though in the postmodern condition. Just like the reversal of classical kynicism (philosophy from below) into postmodern cynicism (for the ruling elites) before it, the classical meaning of panic has now disappeared into its opposite sense. In the postmodern scene, panic signifies a twofold free-fall: the disappearance of external standards of public conduct when the social itself becomes the transparent field of a cynical power; and the dissolution of the internal foundations of identity (the disappearing ego as the victory sign of postmodernism) when the self is transformed into an empty screen of an exhausted, but hyper-technical, culture. Panic? That is the dominant psychology of the fully technological self, living at that vanishing-point where postmodern science and culture interpolate as reverse mirror-images in a common power field. If the hyper-technological self is also "falling, falling without limits," this may indicate that it, too, is already a post-fact in the post-millenial alphabet, with one final (literary) existence as an entry in the Panic Encyclopedia.

Walk beneath the Golden Arches and enter the church of McDonald's. The avatars and acolytes of Ronald will welcome and minister to you. Did Ronald Reagan become President because the faithful were remembering Ronald McDonald? All are admitted here, young and old, rich and poor, girl and boy, black and white, healthy and halt, sane and schizy. One of the multitude of universal churches. Mix your fetishes - a burger, fries, and a Coke. "Coke is life." "I'd like to give the world a Coke." But Pepsi is "the choice of a new generation". Ideology and utopia. A bill and some change tossed into the collection plate buys you your fetish. You eat in order to worship. "It's a good time for a great day at McDonald's". Instant "kairos".

Navigation Controls

Ahead to: Next Manifestos Essay
Back to: Previous Manifestos Resource Review
Up to: Manifestos Table of Contents
Way Up to: 4 Zones Menu
Over to... Glossary
Over to... Master Table of Contents

© 1998 The Computer Lab
Gareth Branwyn -

Go to Street Tech, Gar & Pete's Tech Review Site.