Everyone knows the old saying: “Behind every technocrat is a transhumanist sorceress.” Nothing lasts forever, though, except the immortal soul and silicon.
In the tradition of celebrity lovebirds, Elon Musk just announced he’s splitting with the techno-pagan pop star Grimes (or “c”, or “War Nymph,” or whatever she’s calling herself these days). But the world’s richest man assured gossip writers they’re still on good terms. After all, Musk and Grimes have their son X Æ A-Xii to raise. Some say he has his father’s eyes.
For the consumer class, celebrity technocrats are exalted as idols. Even after their nasty separation, Bill and Melinda Gates are adored as heroic philanthropists. On a spiritual level, Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan represent a postmodern fusion of Western Judaism and Eastern Buddhism.
As cultural icons, Musk and Grimes blend his tech expertise with her dark transhumanist vision. Grimes’s pop fantasies—deeply rooted in futurism and the occult—are being realized alongside Musk’s innovations.
In the same way that rock n’ roll foretold America’s current chemical dependency and loose sexual norms, rave culture is a herald of fashionable technocracy.
Kneeling to the Highest Power
Even as a casual techno fan, I never paid attention to Grimes until a wise right-wing blogger noticed her 2018 single “We Appreciate Power.” The catchy, if intensely irritating track is a hymn to a super-conscious Computer God. The lyrics portray humanity living in a virtual simulation, ruled over by divinized artificial intelligence—to whom every knee shall bend. The sappy bridge is about uploading the mind to achieve digital immortality.
Biology is superficial
Intelligence is artificial
The song may be the most annoying sound anyone’s made since Billy Idol recorded “Neuromancer” in 1993. But hearing Grimes pray to AI on YouTube—with over 23 million views and counting—it seems like a significant cultural moment.
Maybe it’s her romantic connection to Elon Musk—the tycoon who plans to sell Neuralink brain implants for cognitive enhancement and populate cities with scrawny robot slaves—a man who advocates universal basic income while praising China as a “global leader in digitalization.” Or maybe the starlet is unsettling on her own merits.
Celebrities do all sorts of weird things, but Grimes takes it to future shock levels. She claims to have eliminated blue light from her vision “through an experimental surgery that removes the top film of [her] eyeball and replaces it with an orange ultra-flex polymer…as a means to cure seasonal depression.” The singer says she gobbles a handful of supplements every day to amp up her mitochondria. “From that point,” she told her 2.1 million Instagram fans, “I spend 2-4 hours in my deprivation tank, this allows me to ‘astro-glide’ to other dimensions—past, present, and future.”
Her stories may be as preposterous as Musk’s fully autonomous Tesla, but in both cases, it’s the symbolism that counts. As every parent or schoolteacher knows, a primary instinct behind cultural evolution is “monkey see, monkey do.” Role models replicate from the top down.
In 2020, Grimes released Miss Anthropocene, “a concept album about the anthropomorphic Goddess of Climate Change: A psychedelic, space-dwelling demon/beauty-Queen who relishes the end of the world.” As a foil to this deity, Grimes created a bald baby avatar—dubbed War Nymph—to inhabit our new age of social media and virtual reality.
“Everyone is living two lives,” she told The Face, “their digital life and their offline life.” She added,
The avatar allows us to play to the strengths of digital existence rather than be a human trying to navigate a world that isn’t made for us. … We also wanted to develop a new species that would be ready for the next evolution in media. Something that can transport our identities to worlds that simply can’t exist in reality. … I’m also pregnant.”
She went on to describe something that resembles a personal philosophy.
The existence of consciousness seems like God to me. Maybe we’ve been looking outside ourselves for an answer, but perhaps we are the answer. … Or maybe we’re in a simulation that is more purposeful, being run by someone with a plan. As I get deeper, I become less skeptical of intelligent design.”
Typical of flaky pop stars, Grimes is both inspired and totally incoherent. Given that freedom, she offers a window into the scattered mentality of our cultural elite. Last year on Earth Day, her War Nymph avatar declared, “A capitalist-socialist technocracy would be ideal. Strong safety net, compensation for motherhood. leadership [sic] via ethical tech like lab grown meat (cruelty free)”