Hyper (Greek for above or beyond) is a misunderstood prefix. It's used synonymously with "super" or "mega"; another mouthful from our overflowing cup of superlatives as though society were so full of excess that English needs as many greaters-than as possible to keep up, like the canard about Inuit language and snow. It is a disappointing misuse of an affix with potential; it can signify something more interesting than the caveman grunt of "bigger", "better".
Implicit within hyper is excess, a quality of going beyond what is comfortable or permissible. It suggests the adverb too. Already hyperness adopts an extradimensionality; whereas with our "megas" and "supers" there is merely the straight line of less-to-more, now we are faced with the conception of limits. This is the case of hyperbole, an ancient word meaning "throwing too far"; the root bole is literally etymologically linked with ball. One can only picture the two Peloponnesian shepherds tossing a stone back and forth, one overshoots and it flies off a cliff into the Aegean spoiling their fun. In this way hyperbole in language tosses the concept in the right direction, but maybe ease up a little? Hyperactive is in the same category, activity is a desired trait in adults but hyperactivity is the domain of boys. Here the recognition of a distinct hyperness implies a maturity, to know when something is too much you have to run into those limits first by hard experience.
But we've already touched on the more interesting application of hyperness, one that is a recent innovation but highly apropos to our new phenomena: that is the extradimensionality. Hyperness is at its most descriptive when it is used to implicate a concept encompassing a different or parallel space to its root. Its application is immediately mathematical: hypercubes are tesseracts, objects impossible to visualize but endlessly simulated existing in fourth dimensional space. From math we get to physics: hyperspace, an area beyond our conceptions of area, the place-between-places. From physics we can go to hard engineering, the hyperdrive of science fiction that can instantly transport little green men vast distances which would otherwise take thousands of years. Hyperness meanwhile exists in the liberal arts as hypertext, an already established concept well before its practical application of the internet, the structuralists having identified every utterance as linked to a web of implication. Still, could they have imagined the psychological ease by which we see a word colored blue and instinctively know it doubles as a doorway somewhere else?
Hyperness is a quality endemic in a universe saturated by irony. Jacobin smartly identifies a "hyperpolitics" of detachment, that all politics has become spectacle, that everything feels worse than ever but no one is motivated to do anything about it. Baudrillard gestured at this ridiculous milieu when he claimed that the Gulf War never happened, that Americans only saw a thing called "war" on television but never felt any of its consequences. Or consider the January 6th rioters who breached the Capitol Building only to wander around without any idea what to do next. Liberals are right to bemoan any similarity to lynch mobs and pogroms, yet can you imagine the Jedwabne murderers rounding up their Jewish neighbors only to shrug and return home? Perhaps the soporific effect of hyperpolitics protects as much as it hinders.
Jameson goes downstream from politics to culture when he identifies postmodernism as the logical result of late capitalism. Just as our politics and resources are exhausted so too is our culture. We can only remake what we distantly remember, we can only rely on nostalgia, we can only repeat what we've done before, while acknowledging that we've done it, while acknowledging that we're acknowledging that we've done it. We live in hyperculture, in a dimension beyond culture, perhaps on the other side of a computer screen. I'm afraid it'll take a calamity to cross that divide, I'm afraid it's already here.