Serfs up!Social critics, particularly on the political and academic left, may disapprove of the dream of transcending ordinary humanness that has been unleashed by technoculture and the cyberpunk A futuristic, online delinquent: breaking into computer systems; surviving by high-tech wits. The term comes from science fiction novels such as "Neuromancer" and "Shockwave Rider. trope, but they also manifest a perverse attraction - even an atavistic at·a·vism
1. The reappearance of a characteristic in an organism after several generations of absence, usually caused by the chance recombination of genes.
2. An individual or a part that exhibits atavism. hunger - for it. Pomo French philosophers like Deleuze and Virilio (keep in mind that these guys blur into a singularly overwrought point of view to cyberpop dilettantes such as myself) can at least be credited with putting their lustings to valid use, cobbling together a bitter theory of seduction aimed at the television viewer, or, arguably, the nethead, whose "body becomes a pole of inertia." J. G. Ballard James Graham Ballard (born 15 November, 1930 in Shanghai) is a British writer. He was a prominent member of the New Wave in science fiction. His best known books are the controversial Crash, and the autobiographical novel Empire of the Sun similarly observed a "flattening of affect" among mediated citizens way back in the mid '60s.
Unfortunately, this essentially existential discourse has been buttressed by more populist effusions of political rectitude, which I like to refer to as the "Do I dare to eat a peach if the under-class cannot?" argument. Deep inside this emotionally satisfying if intellectually silly position, one finds the view (given expression in Mark Dery's book Escape Velocity: Cyberculture cy·ber·cul·ture
The culture arising from the use of computer networks, as for communication, entertainment, work, and business.
Noun 1. at the End of the Century) that technological "utopianism u·to·pi·an·ism also U·to·pi·an·ism
The ideals or principles of a utopian; idealistic and impractical social theory.
1. " emerges almost inevitably from the essentially primitivistic untutored brow of the children of privilege and colonialism - and is therefore axiomatically dismissable. This view gains credence in light of the current romance between cyberculture's vaguely countercultural "A" list - as represented by the Electronic Frontier Foundation See EFF.
(body) Electronic Frontier Foundation - (EFF) A group established to address social and legal issues arising from the impact on society of the increasingly pervasive use of computers as a means of communication and information distribution. (EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation, San Francisco, CA, www.eff.org) A non-profit civil liberties organization founded in 1990 by Mitchell Kapor and John Perry Barlow. It works in the public interest to protect privacy and freedom of expression in the arenas of computers and the Internet. ) - and Newt Gingrich's Progress and Freedom Foundation The Progress & Freedom Foundation is a U.S. market-oriented think tank based in Washington, D.C. that studies the digital revolution and its implications for public policy. (PFF PFF Progress & Freedom Foundation
PFF Preparing Future Faculty (training university teaching assistants)
PFF Page Fault Frequency
PFF Pre-Formed Fragmentation (type of ammunition projectile) ), both with visions of the devolution of the centralized state dancing in their heads. And a dominator's insensitivity to the impact of that event on real people's lives undoubtedly adds an unconscious erotic frisson to the sordid affair.
Logic dictates that class will infect point of view, whether the position be one of privilege, destitution, or any point between. This is not interesting. What is interesting, and indeed sad, is that in the apparent absence of a cybercultural libertarian left, the "utopian" ground has been ceded to the forces of reaction and the ad copy writers at AT&T.
This has not always been the case. Indeed, the last moments during which revolutionary movements were in ascendance in the West were energized by "utopian" demands and even by longings for transcendence. "Be realistic. Demand the Impossible!" read the popular slogan of France's near-revolution in 1968. America's New Left/hippie marriage spawned similar utopian demands for a "postscarcity" anarchism anarchism (ăn`ərkĭzəm) [Gr.,=having no government], theory that equality and justice are to be sought through the abolition of the state and the substitution of free agreements between individuals. "watched over by the machines of loving grace The Machines are an industrial/post-punk band from Tucson, Arizona.
They formed in 1989 as Machines of Loving Grace (named for a Richard Brautigan poem). The original lineup consisted of Scott Benzel (vocals), Stuart Kupers (guitar and bass), and Mike Fisher ," as Richard Brautigan wrote. Influential writers like Norman O. Brown Norman Oliver Brown (1913, El Oro, Mexico – 2002, Santa Cruz, California) was an American intellectual of wide ranging interests.
His father was an Anglo-Irish mining engineer; his mother was a Cuban of Alsatian and Cuban origin. challenged Freud's reality principle and proposed a new society governed by eros. Radical theorists took Marshall McLuhan's notion of the West's retribalization into the realm of the transcendent by proposing that an eroticized, communalized body politic, liberated not only from the dictates of the State but also from the reality principle itself, would dance its way into a new utopian order. Rimbaud imagined a similar possibility in the Paris Commune of 1871 and, from there, set himself the impossible task of conjuring this transmutation transmutation /trans·mu·ta·tion/ (trans?mu-ta´shun)
1. evolutionary change of one species into another.
2. the change of one chemical element into another. of the human condition through his words alone.
In the 1970s, Ilya Prigogine's theory of dissipating structures would begin to show how entropic or chaotic systems tend to reorganize at a higher level of coherence. Chaos theory might have lent some vague scientific credence to notions of collective revolutionary transcendence, but it appeared too late: the distinguishing feature of the revolutionary moment of 1968-71, a willingness to abandon, challenge, and perhaps even transcend private property, had dissipated. The political corollary to the theory of dissipating structures would be captured instead by an ideology that advocated devolution of the social welfare state combined with a defense of corporate metaproperty under the fable of "free enterprise." This relationship was made explicit in August 1995 at a PFF-sponsored conference in Aspen, Colorado, at which cyberhippie John Perry Barlow John Perry Barlow (born October 3, 1947) is an American poet, essayist, retired Wyoming cattle rancher, political activist and former lyricist for the Grateful Dead. Biography
Born in Sublette County, Wyoming, Barlow attended elementary school in a one room schoolhouse. and Wired editor Kevin Kelly used chaos theory to buttress the notion that capitalism, liberated from state structures, would bring about a greater good.
Two primary tendencies emerged from the retreat from spontaneous revolutionary/transcendent utopianism. One of these - toward long-term, serious, earnest, realistic political progressivism - proved anemic when not informed and energized by more atavistic utopian urges. The other, a culture of rebelliousness and irreverence within - and frequently sponsored by - consumer capitalism, its former spontaneity swathed in layers of self-conscious irony, would thrive.
By the time we arrived at technoculture or cyberculture in the late '80s, hip irony, or rebellion-without-revolution, was absolutely emblematic of the culture at large. This tendency has by now occasioned several generations of atomized, affectless citizens. That it would dominate even over McLuhan's techno-retribalization in retrospect seems inevitable; after all, both mediation and cybernetics cybernetics [Gr.,=steersman], term coined by American mathematician Norbert Wiener to refer to the general analysis of control systems and communication systems in living organisms and machines. are self-reflexive by nature.
This was the essentially flaccid flaccid /flac·cid/ (flak´sid) (flas´id)
1. weak, lax, and soft.
Lacking firmness, resilience, or muscle tone. cultural context into which the novel notion of a return of possibility - revolution, mutation, or at least change - via digital technology was inserted. My own Mondo mon·do Slang
Enormous; huge: a mondo list of pizza toppings.
Extremely; very: a mondo big mistake. 2000 was instrumental in serving up this compound of self-reflexive cool with a reemergent transcendental hope for a radical shift in what it is to be a human being, driving cultural critics on the left to react like horny Catholics in a striptease club. And while having assisted in granting a hip bohemian cachet to the emergent digital engines of capitalism's last hurrah occasionally renders me abject with guilt, I find it more interesting to stay astride this technological behemoth, and for reasons aside from a total lack of alternatives.
The immediate impact of the digitalization digitalization /dig·i·tal·iza·tion/ (dij?i-tal-i-za´shun) the administration of digitalis or one of its glycosides in a dosage schedule designed to produce and then maintain optimal therapeutic concentrations of its cardiotonic of the human economic is to increase the wealth and power of the realigning media/computer industrial fiefdoms, rendering the "power of the people" obsolete via a strategy of replacement and globalization. Still, it is the nature of the information economic - that is, the economic of self-replicating systems (e.g., cybernetics) implied by computer information flow and promised by bio- and nanotechnology (the manipulation of matter as patterns of information on the molecular level) - to render property and ownership trivial and uncontrollable. The current panics over copyright, privacy, piracy, appropriation, information inflation, and attention deficit are only tips of the iceberg: it is increasingly difficult to contain privately and corporately held media properties, and even more difficult to guarantee that a mass consumer audience will (a) continue to care about the fenced-off media properties inside the turnstiles and (b) continue to exist. It's in this context that Barlow labels all the recent media corporate megamergers as "rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic."
It's a great line, but too sanguine - and in that sense emblematic of the comfortable, privileged vision of cyberculture "anarchism." It also evokes passivity, suggesting that the fall of the massive multinational corporate organism is inevitable, a by-product of technical evolution. Our only role, then, is to kick back and watch it fall, whether at our fully electronic desks, basking in irony from our corporation-sponsored perch on the wired edge, or huddled around the fires of our homeless encampment comparing nipple rings. It would be more realistic to credit this multinational organism with the flexibility to shift with the prevailing winds, find novel ways of maintaining and expanding its grip on ownership of all things, and - as a last option - foreclose the masses' mortgage on the planet Earth, of which it is virtually the owner.
And this is where we come full circle. Because the only conceivable alternative to a world of human refuse, of serfs and slaves abandoned by an increasingly self-sufficient corporate cyber-media oligarchy, is a revolution of the lumpenproletariat lum·pen·pro·le·tar·i·at
1. The lowest, most degraded stratum of the proletariat. Used originally in Marxist theory to describe those members of the proletariat, especially criminals, vagrants, and the unemployed, who lacked class (the formerly working class) based not in neo-Luddite refusal but in desire. A revolution that rises up and simply demands the fruits of technological development, unconditionally, not because it's ennobling en·no·ble
tr.v. en·no·bled, en·no·bling, en·no·bles
1. To make noble: "that chastity of honor . . . but because it's fun, not because we deserve it but because they don't deserve to have it to themselves, and because we want it. Liberated from alienated work and want, perhaps the eroticized, communalized body politic imagined by '60s utopians would reemerge. (It would undoubtedly become chic - we wouldn't leave self-reflexive complexity behind completely, would we?) Ordinary lives might become "deregulated," permitted the same experimental spontaneity now being granted the so-called free market under the pseudoscientific pseu·do·sci·ence
A theory, methodology, or practice that is considered to be without scientific foundation.
pseu cover of chaos theory. All this watched over by the machines of loving grace? Yeah. And probably AT&T.