The Newest Postmodern Artifact?

Life Is RandomI re-read this week (for class) Fredric Jameson’s Postmodernism, or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism. Jameson argues that postmodernism signals the end of the self as an individual monad. He specifically sites how modernist conceptions of affect, as illustrated in Munch’s The Scream, are replaced in postmodernism by feelings that have significantly waned and are “free-floating and impersonal?. The postmodern self does not view his life as an unfolding drama of unquestionable importance, as one might find in the modernist works of Camus, but rather experiences life as “series of pure and unrelated presents in time?.

I couldn’t help but notice the extent to which the postmodern aesthetic (we will bracket the larger existential issue for the sake of brevity) has come to dominate the cultural sphere. When Jameson wrote Postmodernism, he employed the greatest examples of the day: Warhol’s shoes, the Bonaventure hotel, etc. Such examples, although illustrative, now seem like modernist exemplars when compared to Apple’s advertisements for the iPod shuffle, which I think is the fullest reification of the postmodern aesthetic to-date. While walking home through Herald Square, and looking up and seeing “Life is Random?, I couldn’t help but think Jameson was right.

Welcome to my new site!

After having sworn off having a website for the last several years, I have finally decided to recant and start anew with something fresh and springy. So here it is! And what may you expect to find at this site? Well, I will attempt to avoid the minutiae of my everyday life (I will not be photographing my meals or attempting to imitate Proust) and will rather stick to the topics of my keenest interest: technology, philosophy, education– and a little art and literature to spice things up. In essence, some pedantic ramblings interjected with software development jargon. All kidding aside, I aim for this blog to form a useful synthesis relating technology to a larger theoretical and educational framework.

I will begin with a question. I read Habermas’ Theory of Communicative Action last week and I have been fixated on his conjecture that the market and administrative state are colonizing the communicatively-structured life-world (or the world of consensus seeking individuals). Although Habermas’ concern is not unique, I would like to use his conjecture as the starting point for this blog. In particular, in what ways can the Internet, with its emerging modalities (Open Source methodologies, folksonomies, social networking software) act to reinforce the life-world, or the space where subjects grow and meanings are created?