Without the analog, play leaves no trace. Without the digital, the analog yields no score. Neither analog nor digital is play itself. The analog flattens play out into a single line, so that its movement may continue, in reduced form, into another space. The analog enables a movement to communicate from topos to topos. The digital codifies movement, translating it onto the very different space of number. The military entertainment complex reverses the procedure. It starts with number, and translates the digital into the analog, and the analog into movement. Rather than find topos in the world, it installs the world into topos, remaking the world as a gamespace.
The digital perceives its own achievement as bringing precision and controlled mutability to an otherwise wildly fluctuating world. From the point of view of the digital, the line of either/or, the abstract boundary, is what produces the distinction. For the digital, difference is distinction. Considered from the point of view of the analog, it is movement itself which is difference, and the digital merely marks points where there is a phase change from one qualitative state to another, but which is pure product of difference producing itself out of itself. For the analog, topos is a discourse, an account, a gathering of the world. For the digital, topos becomes a reckoning, a measuring. In the province of the analog, the sticky ball accumulates through movement; in the heavens of the digital, everything has a size and a name.
The military entertainment complex discovers experimentally that if the relation between the analog and the digital is digital, an absolute boundary, then the domain of the digital can be perfected as one of purely relative, numerical value — a gamespace. All the ambiguities, the slippage, the differences of the analog can be set aside. This digital realm can then become the locus for command and control of the analog remainder, which it treats as a mere residue. The lines of the digital can be inscribed ever more extensively and intensively on the world, to the point where a digital heaven is realized, and the analog in and of itself vanishes, and movement becomes an effect of the digital. The Analog Prince only rolls the ball, steering this way and that, because King Digital commands it. And why does he command it? To make the universe over, to recreate being itself, as an effect of the digital as a command.
The digital, once installed in the world, defeats the logic of storyline, within which the digital serves to make the analog manifest, but does not control it. The novel, which from James Fenimore Cooper to William Gibson narrates the rise and fall of the military industrial complex, uses the codes of language to follow a series of movements beyond language’s ken. The digital produces, not just new kinds of media, but a whole new topos, in which the role and rule of the line is reversed. One no longer follows a line to find where it divides, one divides a line to make it amenable to distinction. Storyline becomes gamespace. The storyline that inaugurates the world of Katamari Damacy is not a creation myth but a destruction myth. The storyline’s last task is to erase itself and initiate the new conditions of difference for gamespace.
The digital, once installed in the world, accelerates the potential for change, but for change always of the same type. The Analog Prince can roll up many things to make his Katamari balls, but the differences among these objects is pure skin. All that matters is their aggregation, glommed together as more and more of the same. Likewise, the military entertainment complex grids the earth, making it over in the image of its digital representation, making it amenable to the imposition of the code, its unambiguous stratifications. Differences proliferate wildly, beyond the simple dichotomies of the topographic. But these differences are always and everywhere distinctions, exchangeable equivalents within the logistics of commodity space and military space. Roll up more and more balls, populate the heavens with a veritable milky way, but each is different from the other always in the same way.