A smiley face button is an add-on to a denim jacket. A new girlfriend is an add-on to your life. A war is an add-on to the misery the planet has to sustain.

Add-ons. What do they have in common?

They alter the message of the firmament, without changing the firmament itself.

Messages … Semiotics teaches us that the medium is the message. Or rather, the medium carries the message, and changes it as it transmits. When you think about it, an add-on is a superimposed symbol that contains its own destruction.

Not everything in this world is finite. Living things go on reproducing variants of themselves unto the end of time. The planetary system lasts a damn long time, with clouds forming and re-forming overhead, rain sweeping the lands, erosion happening and un-happening. And look: a meteor shower streaked overhead, showing that we are part of a larger system still.

Add-ons exist in a framework of larger systems. They cannot function without a host, but with a host, they can shine like fireworks.

This framework of larger systems can be man-made, or it can be partly natural. A shack built on the edge of a gigantic waterfall is an add-on to the natural setting. But, returning to the beginning, a smiley face button is all-fake. It exists at the sufferance of the button-clipper.

Tons of add-ons can be seen on television. Television commercials may be thought of as conjectoral add-ons to the programs they help support. In many ways, the program is the parasite and the ad-complex is the host.

Television also shows us virtual add-ons in the screen: in the jeans the characters wear, the cars they drive, even the blender that is whirring in one critical scene in Season 3, Episode 6. The cavalcade of images forms a torrent of add-ons hard to imagine.

The really insane thing about it is all add-ons started out in the nothingness layer of the universe, and graduated to somethingness in the twinkling of a creator’s eye. What defines the human race as much as speech and communication is the add-ons we encounter, and make, in the rounds of our daily lives. Without them, we are lost.

— Greg Nikolic


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