Introduction

"It’s too bad that all our timelines are inherently self-destructive."
Rosebud Ben-Oni

What is a simulation in an augmented reality?

What does it mean, when a Target commercial makes me do my nails in Revlon Red from CVS? Is my hunger for Lobster Fest real? Or just my craving for hot sauce under late capitalism? How do I take it when newscasters warn that users have already been "exposed" to fake Facebook accounts, and cut to an expert talking psychological "contamination" like we've decided as a society to LARP They Live?

For CapsuleCrit's second issue, we're taking on work that explores simulation, the body, the boundaries of the city, and the individual.

Placing trash cans in Rollercoaster Tycoon, I think about who's left to clean up. Who's forging that steel that I might trash when I decide that Merry-go-Round should be a Ghost Train. Deletion is elegant and wasteless (forgetting about Guest 24601 stuck in an infinite loop somewhere).

Via Rhianna's Insta: Skinny eyebrows are "in"—very Weimar. As I first drafted this, I had to stop to walk away from Philadelphia's counter-terrorism police unit, dispatched against anti-ICE protesters at the Comcast Center. At home, my partner sounds like a conspiracy theorist, but I wouldn't say they're wrong.

Via Sylvia Artiga: "The true challenge of the city-builder is this: if this city falls, it is the fault of the builder who could not make it strong enough to support everyone."

I don't have money for one more Kickstarter.

"The true fantasy of the city-builder is this: not just control of a tiny world that you can shape like a garden and watch like an ant farm..."

How do I tell you that I'm sorry about your father, that I'm sorry about your medication, that I'm sorry about your bail? We don't live in that fantasy, and rarely do our games of metropolitan fantasy enact that catharsis: "an exercise in making abundance, and sharing it with everyone who wants to call the same place home."

What does it mean to do a favor for someone at the end of the world? What does it mean to eat your fill, not looking toward your inevitable depletion of supplies, of energy, of the body made capital, made meter? What does community care look like, when our meters, IRL and digital, hemorrhage?

I didn't know what work we'd receive for CapsuleCrit's second issue (and I'm grateful for everyone who sent in work). It does seem that many of us are asking similar questions, prodding toward a similar thesis, shaped by simultaneous circumstances, as disparate as we are.

"Maybe our most real timeline resides in another verb tense."

Maybe my partner broke into my body, and turned this letter into another manifesto. Maybe I'm okay with that. ◒