The Chip Sect

I recently watched a reasonably bad TV-show about sects. There was a doctor of religion who talked about her interviews with children growing up in sects, that she did for her dissertation.

Are these children really free? the journalist asked her. Her answer was, as an obvious adaptation to the level of the discussion, yes.

According to her, the children didn’t see themselves as non-free. They could choose between “freedom” and “safety” and they had chosen the latter. The sect. And in that safety, they felt free to do what they wanted.

I thought that was a nice way to put how I sometimes feel about using old computers to make music. Freedom within the system. Thinking within the box. And the safety of always having the option to go well it might suck but at least it will always be chipmusic. I think Zabutom expressed something similar in my master thesis, actually.

The journalist replied: But aren’t they so repressed by the sect that they can’t think anything else?


The chipscene is a sort of bounded culture, where the members choose to live in celibacy from the temptations of technology. A community of people based on abstinence rather than affluence. They dare to say no.

People on the outside cannot understand why you would want to limit yourself to old machines. For the outsiders, more options means more freedom. For the insiders, more options means more angst. More confusion.

In my master thesis and in this blog, I described this as a sort of alternative to the progress-mania of modernism/capitalism. But I had never thought about it from this religious perspective before.

It makes sense. Some, at least. After all, it’s one thing to critique these things in text or art, and it’s another way to actually live that critique. And in some way, that is what some sects do. They might be fecked up in other ways, but they don’t buy the affluent idea of freedom that most of us do in the West. Spam freedom.

We think we are more free because we have “freedom of speech”. We think we are more free because we can wear “whatever we want”. We think we are more free because we can buy 98791672445838 different kinds of whatever. And by we I mean me.

Deep down I think I believe that too, because I’ve been trained to. It is completely normal. If I wouldn’t believe it *at all* I would be in trouble. I would be in a sect. Or even worse, I would make 8-bit music.

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