July 22, 2006

Nietzsche, Teilhard, McLuhan, Baudrillard

Crash Theory (Teilhard meets Nietzsche) by Rich on Tue 20 Jun 2006 10:52 PM PDT Permanent Link
While the techno-utopian vision has its own merits (such as the one put forth by MSS) unless one brings to bear a critical interrogation of the actual phenomena and the economic forces propeling it and the possibility as in all technology of its unintended consequences, then this vision can become dangerously naive. Such is also true of the vision of great luminaries such as Teilhard de Cardin and Marshall McLuhan. The consequence of a new form of consciousness emerging from the collective endevour of humanity through science and technology can certainly be as perilous as promising. So to balance the scales a bit here is a reference to the shadow projection of the internet and telematic experience which must be contrasted with any techno-optomistic vision of salvation through technocracy.
I will quote from the book Data Trash from Arthur Kroker on Teilhard/McLuhan's shadow projection as formulated by as 'Crash Theory.' But first a few words about Crash Theory. Crash Theory of course responds to predecessors like Jean Baudrillard in his Simulations and Simulacrain which Baudrillard performs a reading of the Ballard short story "the Crash" in which human and machinicapparatus fatally interwine as flesh literally disappears into technological vehicle, and Paul Virilio's notion of "the Accident" which is couched in each new technological innovation (as in the automobile accident) or as an unintended consequence of the innovation. Its origins must somehow be formulated in the human blind spot whose projection is just as much a technological destining of the future, as the more obvious and intentional ratiocination of consciousness which is the ideological technological destining of the Virtual Class (ex. Microsoft...)
This excerpt is from Data Trash 1991. In which Kroker formulates his theory of the Virtual Class. I remember seeing a billboard in Beverly Hills with one of the more well known slogans from it with an appropriate graphic referring toan encroaching cyber fascism where: /virtual flesh lay like road kill along the information superhighway.....Here is Kroker:
Teilhard de Chardin’s “noosphere” Marshall McLuhan’s “global village” The notion of an emergent form of being that comes out of the “human” and surpasses it. Samuel Alexander’s “deity” and all the other “gods” that humans are supposed to bring into being and which were in the minds of James, Bergson, Unamuno, and Whitehead. For the most part evolutionary and progressive. Also Hegalian. Just because the human will be decentered and surpassed by a new mode of being does nt mean that the human will be diminished. On the contrary it will come into its own as collaborator in something greater. Honored collaborator.
James’s god was a friend and a partner who needed us. Whitehead’s god was fulfilled only in its consequent nature through our efforts. McLuhan’s technological humanism stands at the end of this modernist discourse. All other emerginists were visionary anticipators with theological imaginations. In McLuhan the noosphere materializes as the media-net. The emergent is no longer to be striven for as something in the future, but a fact. McLuhan is the moment of positivistic emergentism. He is reporting the fact that there is a mode of being that has succeeded and now encompasses the human. But he is still a humanist . He is still a doctor. He needs to prescribe. For him, there is a common sense which might be trained to respond to the distortions created by technology and to restore its homeostasis through an indigent diet. The media might yet serve “man”.
Cross McLuhans’s nervous system outerized by the media with Nietzsche’s “last man” and you get crash theory. This is how it happens : Crash Theory is the post-humanist (not anti-humanist- what is there to be against if the “human” is dead and now a subject of endless resurrection efforts) continuation of emergentism. It follows McLuhan’s outerization thesis, and extends elaborates it by calling attention to how the media-net is constituted by technologies that were not in McLuhan’s ken. Crash theory, however, abandons the notion that media are “extensions of man”. Far from it . They are the humiliations of the flesh which remains an embarrassment after man dies.The crash has happened . The emergence of the media-net is accompanied by the onset of the reclining life. Rather than McLuhan’s Hegalian vision of a common sense restored by and through the media, a media-net scans, sucks, and probes the body for more images and bytes to be archived, called up, recombined, run, and archived in cyclical processes leading nowhere: that is non-history.
Rich: - I believe here he refers to what I take to be the disappearance of human into machine (and all that that has meant since Heidegger and all that it would mean if Nietzsche were writing its history before us now).
Kroker: To recapitulate: some visionaries at the beginning of the twentieth century announced (prophesied) the emergence of a being out of man. McLuhan , the last prophet, declared the advent of the emergent. Crash Theory shows the consequences of the emergent.
Rich: but what if we were to set the Catholic vision of folks like McLuhan and de Chardin inside the wider catholic visioning of Sri Aurobindo...? I dont think that Sri Aurobindo would have been blinded by any naive techno-optomism, and elsewhere I have quoted from him at length from the Human Cycle in which he cautions about the Titan which in my opinion is just the sort of entity Kroker is describing here. Posted to: Main Page - Perilous

No comments:

Post a Comment