We had the pleasure of hosting trend forecaster Emily Segal on February 8 for an exclusive sold-out conference on the concept of hyperstition, in partnership with THEFINEPRINT magazine. Editor-in-Chief Estelle Gervais interviewed the Berlin-based futurist in order to shed some light on the notion, as well as having her comment on hyperstitious situations we’ve created that could very much take place.
I’d like to go over the definition of hyperstition itself—as it was formulated in the 90s but also how you’ve interpreted it in order to explain the phenomenon of hype as we know it today.
Hyperstition is a term coined in the 1990s to describe fictions that make themselves true. As the CCRU (Cybernetic Culture Research Unit) once defined it: “There is no difference in principle between a universe, a religion, and a hoax. All involve an engineering of manifestation, or practical fiction, that is ultimately unworthy of belief. Nothing is true, because everything is under production. Because the future is a fiction it has a more intense reality than either the present or the past. Hyperstitions are not representations, neither disinformation nor mythology.” Nemesis is in the process of reinterpreting this concept in the context of a globalized information culture, in which fashion is rapidly percolating.
Could you explain the relation between understanding the hype of things and predicting the future?
Predicting the future is always kind of a lie. And hype is rarely “understood”, but it can often be felt. It can be fun to get really excited about something completely random.
During the presentation, you’ve referred to “A Thing” in order to make the audience understand the hype behind an ordinary object turned, well, hyped. What makes something… “A Thing”? Who has the authority to do so, or is it self-reliant?
It’s both self-reliant (that’s the self-actualizing quality of the hyperstition at work) as well as the function of larger systemic forces that thrive (and capitalize on) relentless differentiation.
You’ve mentioned that in order for something to become hype, it must be “A Thing” as well as something quite random. Do you see this as a trend that might pass or something that will influence consumption for the years to come?
I think the overall mechanics I described in the talk are likely to influence consumption for the foreseeable future.