Christopher Nolan’s TENET transposes the class war into a temporal war, and then re-transposes this temporal war into a grand spectacle spy action film. Instead of time as protagonist we have the self-found « Protagonist » of time regained. As Mark Fisher well knew, the time war is a class war.
TENET registers the fact that the ruling class is waging war on the rest of humanity, and to the fantasy (?) that this war of attrition may seek to to transition to total war once the right algorithm has been found.
From a Stieglerian point of view, as the Anthropocene understood as Entropocene turns increasingly towards algorithmic governmentality, the struggle against capitalism must be a struggle for the Negentropocene by means of the dealgorithmisation of desire. This dealgorithmisation of desire proceeds by its noetisation, and the tenet is the degree zero of such a noetisation. Such a tenet is a wager on the incalculable.
TENET is thus the opposite of INCEPTION, where the goal was to seed an idea, a tenet, in the mind of a financial rival, one calculated to ensure its defeat. In TENET the goal is to establish a tenet strong enough, and clandestine enough, to defeat the algorithm.
TENET, like INCEPTION, is a film that literalises the virtual. However the virtual does manage to resonate in a few places. For example, at the end:
It’s the bomb that didn’t go off. The danger no one knew was real. That’s the bomb with the real power to change the world.
Considered as a science fiction film TENET is disappointingly simplistic and hand-wavy. Christopher Nolan affirms that he had been thinking about its ideas for many years, but a quick read of some science fiction classics, including Robert Heinlein and Philip K. Dick, could have reduced that research time to a few weeks.
TENET evokes uknowingly Stiegler’s idea of the Neganthropocene/Negentropocene. It would be a mistake to suppose that the « bad » future is punishing us for allowing global warming to ruin their lives. On the contrary, there is full continuity in the ruling class’s strategy. Climate change did not get rid of us, so more drastic measures are needed: the time war.
TENET literalises and totalises Stiegler’s concept of the current epoch the Anthropocene as Entropocene. If the necessary solution, the Neganthropocene, interpreted as totalised Negentropocene, comes to mean the elimination of humanity as such (except for some constitutive exception) then the negativity of the death drive will have become a system subordinated to the master algorithm of destruction.
Algorithmic drive is no better than algorithmic desire.
TENET, like the Owl of Minerva, spreads its wings at dusk:
We live in a twilight world. We live in a twilight world. And there are no friends at dusk.
In this twilight world Neil is the Spinozist, believing in the substance and immutability of what has happened, but the Protagonist is Hegelian, he subjectivises the substance of what has happened (that is how he becomes the Protagonist), and so can become active.