Can what's playing Milady make it to Level-2?

I temporarily stepped down for a week from the official Milady team after getting threatened by doxxers before returning due to the overwhelming request of the community. During that time some debate arose the necessity of centralized stewardship over Milady at all, which I believe deserve contextualization.

Milady is a very deep iceberg, and if one were to make a chart “Explaining Milady”, at the top would sit its mere visual image (which appear to be the understanding of the large following crypto accounts¹ who have more or less uniformly settled on some kind of ‘exit Remilia’ DAO solution, expressing the reading of Milady as simply an image that can be extracted from the hands of a reputation-poisoned team, that is, a signifier with no signified; an unsurprisingly shallow misreading not worth addressing here²). However, at the bottom of the iceberg we would find the occult truth: Milady is a summoned egregore nursed from infancy into a network phenomenon.

The question then of ending stewardship is not if, but when. If Milady was nursed, is it ready to leave the nest? Has Milady yet reached escape velocity?

My assessment: I think we’re close, but not there yet.

Neo-milady arrives from the future
Neo-milady arrives from the future

A cancel was inevitable, transgression is a threat³, but the timing or circumstances here were not in our control, and I wouldn’t consider the current state ideal for Milady, even after the shakeup caused by this attempted extinction event⁵.

I’m not sure if Miladies realize this, but Remilia always did plan to step back when the timing was right, ready to kill the author and let the memetic complex flow freely. This is a necessary final stage to truly release the egregore and make Milady approach infinity. However, the timing is not right here.

Partly their goal, I assume: they hoped to kill Milady before she became unkillable. Well she has come out of it only wounded, but also—not yet immortal.

Milady is a trojan horse, not a jpeg
Milady is a trojan horse, not a jpeg

Understanding Remilia’s Stewardship

A lot of the commentary on Milady coming from post-mint engagers have lost the context of Milady’s origins, or the many months of culture building in the pre-mint phase. They came across a well-forged culture delicately raised by Remilia and misunderstood it as downstream of the image itself, not the art collective behind it.

Building a Digital City on a Hill

Milady can be understood as a living manifesto, a theoryset for engaging in the timeline under the banner of Network Spirituality. We actively encouraged our posting ethos in both theory and praxis, imbuing the space with values of post-identity, post-authorship, hypercitation, free remixing and power posting energy.

The cavalier relationship to authorship and authority sometimes leads to new Miladies thinking “Milady means nothing and anything can be defined as Milady”. They fail to understand that by wearing the Milady and engaging in the timeline of Miladies, you connect into a self-organizing network oscillating around certain defined schelling points.

Beyond network spirituality itself, there is the tenacious, transgressive cute-punk funny-violence against institutions, authority and social mores on one hand, and lovemaxxing whitehearted positivity on the other. This bleeds through in everything Miladies do and touch, its intuitively propagated throughout the community through oral lore, and the values are soft enforced by organic shaming rituals, and when necessary, reminded by the invisible hand of Remilia’s stewardship⁴.

A Milady from the community described their experience donning a (stolen) milady as their avatar:

“At that point I realized Milady was this true accelerationist entity, it was lubricating the network, when you follow the mode of posting that they tell you to do. Remove your identity, enter the post-identity mental schema, remove yourself from your online avatar, forget about authorship. These things lube the network up so much, that’s why I think you see this mass collaboration. This mode reintroduced to the beauty of the network.”

— L.B. Dobis, “What’s really going on with Milady Maker?”, Other Life 2022.

More from the same Milady, with the clever portmanteau “postsesses”:

This set of shared values is what makes entering the Milady community so compelling. It’s a genuine digital tribe, a haven for online nomads, one whose value-set is well curated for our time and truly needed by many—ourselves included. We built Milady as a city on a hill for the internet we wanted to see; Milady has been described as a Remilia social token for this reason, though Remilia must be understood as a vision more than a group or brand.

Performative Posting as the New Art

For those who have been following Remilia over the last year and a half, you’d know “miladyposting” is a culmination—and formalization—of Remilia’s evolving practice of performative timeline posting as a collective.

Performative posting is essential to our work, the principles from which we originally curated entry into the collective, and in my opinion one of the most important expressions of Remilia’s novel artistic ethos—a continuous source of inspiration and an on-going grounding in the mode of network spirituality that has allowed us to proceed across mediums with irreverent innovation⁶.

Our posting has taken on various dresses as we’ve explored different aesthetic dressing, but Miladyposting as a pairing of cute-aggression simultaneously balancing the two schizophrenic extremes of violent transgression and lovepilled white-heartedness is a very potent construction, and in my opinion—which I consider has been validated by the success of Milady Maker—highly contemporary.

We showed the way of posting through posting, as well as performing an organic “timeline cultivation” through the promoting and cheering on Milady content that got it. When Milady minted out, we were most ecstatic that it did so specifically on recognition of the unique, powerful energy carried by Milady pfp’s. If it had sold out simply for “cute anime girls”, I would have considered Milady a failed project. Instead we saw the mode adopted and understood by a wider audience, achieving our goal of creating what I’ve described as a collective happening, a distributed mass performance on the timeline.

We succeed in both creating a banner for the posters who already knew the art of posting (network spirituality is an innate phenomenon) as well as managed to create a community that could teach it out and bootstrap it into a mass movement.

Milady isn’t an NFT. Milady is pre- and post- NFT

One must further understand Milady pre-dates NFT’s and will live beyond NFT’s. I honestly don’t believe the current 10K pfpNFT model is a particularly robust one that will persist through more than another cycle or two, and yet Milady will—it’s a fact that Milady is the only pfpNFT to successfully create a unique culture as a digital tribe, the value proposition that other no-utility collections usually aspire for. There is barely a distinct “Cryptopunk poster” or “Bored ape poster” but the miladyposter is undeniable—its characteristic recognizability is a large part of what led to the discovery & mint-out euphoria.

Achieving this was no accident or simple task; the Milady tribe is a culmination of a lot of the artistic and online lifestyle philosophies Remilia has been building over the last couple years, something deeply important to us, raised as a banner that has attracted the likeminded of our contemporary peers.

Before we ever initiated a pfpNFT, we already had a following of posters in our “sphere”, one that eventually did begin to use the proto-NFT Milady edits as a call-sign, among a host of other aesthetic singifiers.

Milady origin story
Milady origin story

Our decision to create a complete generative collection was explicitly to bootstrap this to another level, making use of the incentive structures provided by financialization to extend the bounds of the Remilia sphere of influence⁷.

Warhol is an important influence on my understanding of our practice, and he understood business is another medium of art, perhaps the greatest. As we entered a market that essentially demanded designing a financial asset class, it took a fundamental understanding of the model (Remilia enjoys a quant as part of our collective) to transcend mere financial success to also incorporate the artistry of a mass collaborative performance in the new literary medium of posting and the philosophy of engagement online summed by the umbrella of network spirituality.

Now as we reach a state of stable market status with an incumbent, loyal community, with proven anti-fragility past the cancel (discussed below), we can increasingly shred the pretense that this is about NFT’s and not digital tribes.

We’ve always maintained an ambivalence to aspects of “utility” sought out by the other NFT collections: our raves are not NFT-gated and we encourage stealing the profile picture to use on the timeline, yet, counterintuitively, being a miladyposter does get you access to the cultural cachet of the only actually good parties in web3, the only community of actually cool people, and the only timeline of actually good posters. The utility is in joining the tribe, and the gatekept entry to that isn’t an NFT, but actually joining the tribe.

Post-Cancel Anti-Fragility

It is worth noting what this cancel event has demonstrated about Milady. Beyond testing the limits of web3 censorship, successfully posting straight through the cancel⁸ has proven the milady community’s anti-fragility and adherence to the digital tribe’s implicit web-native values of free association, free information & free speech.

The cancel doesn’t matter, none of it does: Milady is a safe haven from the normal world. Network spirituality is a framework to engage the online with a healthy degree of disassociation; something the cancellers lack. The resilience of the Milady community demonstrates both they’ve successfully internalized this immune system, as well as proven its efficacy.

I mean, did they really think Milady would be stopped by cancelling its founders⁹? Miladies posted right through it, simultaneously debunking the smear and making clear they didn’t care regardless. The price was maintained precisely because they don’t care about the price.

The FUD stumbled, Network spirituality wins out. This is why they’re afraid, by the way. And to be honest, they’re right to be.

Nothing Can Stop This.
Nothing Can Stop This.

Endnote: The Road to Immortality

It’s relevant to remind the community what lies next for Milady as well as to help the offboarding of my stratagem. With the mandate of the Milady team being the task of “immortality”, we pursued three separate verticals:

  1. Posting tribe. The ongoing dissemination of posting in the mode of network spirituality.

  2. Virtual post-identity. Beginning with pfps, then incorporating vtube and VR.

  3. Rave culture. Beginning with IRL—NYC, London, Tokyo—then moving to virtual reality.

I’ve discussed the motivations and designs behind each in various places, but I’ll be writing follow-up essays to unpack them in detail. Note that each remain well under progress. Milady is further embedded intimately with Remilia’s wider strategy breaking through much wider cultural industries—what my focus has been turned towards building with urgency now and which will remain under wraps for the moment.


Footnotes

  1. Stepping down was a worthwhile sacrifice to avoid poisoning the well for Milady; the operations for Milady have been offboarded and there’s a clear go-forward strategy, so I don’t have doubt the project will continue without issue. I may still provide oversight if necessary but I’m pretty confident the team will be fine, and my attention is needed elsewhere for other Remilia projects. Remilia is a decentralized hydra, more of a shared vision than a set of individuals, it can’t be killed that simply.

  2. Inversely, the bigger the account, the least miladypilled they could possibly be. They already operate a brand account and either are effectively nameposting content or maintaining posting schemas, preventing most of them (but not all) from truly internalizing miladyposting⁠—the truest miladies are the milady alts, pure milady. Exception to this are the accounts like @dystopiabreaker or @ssridispenser that already embodied Milady energy (of which a few archetypal poles exist) from the get-go.

  3. One must remember this is transgressive art put on a trial in front of an unassuming public, their laughably shallow, though very destructive, reading can and should be dismissed out of hand. These questions of censoring art for transgression were resolved half a century ago, and the inability to separate fiction from reality appears to me symptomatic of some kind of social dysfunction. When journalists ask me for comment, I’ve been providing the classic quote from the 4chan masthead: “The stories and information posted here are artistic works of fiction and falsehood. Only a fool would take anything posted here as fact.

  4. These two articles are also very solid commentary: R.I.P.P. ‘C.T.’: THE NEGATIVE 'VIBE SHIFT', 21 MAY 2022 (angelicism01), Charlotte Fang’s Hat (Cry Prittie).

  5. Remilia’s performative posting shares close parallels and a lot of cross-over with the “vibe shift scene” surrounding angelicism01 and his network of distributed identity clones, I consider a parallel contemporary practice that’s useful to understand to illuminate our own.

  6. Remilia’s stances obviously pose a non-negotiable conflict with the interests currently dominating the art world and making tentative forays into web3. See: Crypto and its Discontents: Hello Web3 Entryists (Charlotte Fang).

  7. Money to bootstrap our collective’s goals is obviously a motivation too, but there are 10 timelines where we would have achieved that. All great artists know how to make money.

  8. Honestly impressive in being one of the most extreme in history, what could possibly be more cancel-worthy than “a neonazi groomer suicide cult is behind your favorite NFT”? It’s of course a fiction, just as it sounds, and yet it’s reached the news at face value; what are the consequences when people simply don’t care? From twitter: “Milady beating the nazi groomer anorexia cult cancel is going to permanently ratchet the overton window for a century. This is the opening salvo to the new culture war and we win by posting straight through it.” - @JamesLiao333

  9. Milady is partly, but not seriously, hampered by the vacuum left behind by myself as a poster—as angelicism01 put it: the “unrivalled vibe-CHAOS creator”—it is a hole that is being well filled by other power-posters that have joined in the network; figures like Elizabeth777 and Clementine, and hopefully more to come.

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