Modern times: To see the riven world behind the seamless screen

These implacable voices [of the Frankfurt School mode of criticism] should stay active in our minds. Their dialectic of doubt prods us to pursue connections between what troubles us and what distracts us, to see the riven world behind the seamless screen. “There is no document of civilization which is not at the same time a document of barbarism”: Benjamin’s great formula, as forceful as a Klieg light, should be fixed as steadily on pop culture, the ritual apparatus of American capitalism, as it has been on the art works of the European bourgeoisie. Adorno asked for only so much. Above all, these figures present a model for thinking differently, and not in the glib sense touted by Steve Jobs. As the homogenization of culture proceeds apace, as the technology of surveillance hovers at the borders of our brains, such spaces are becoming rarer and more confined. I am haunted by a sentence from Virginia Woolf’s The Waves: ‘One cannot live outside the machine for more perhaps than half an hour. “

Source: Alex Ross, ‘The Naysayers’, The New Yorker, September 15th, 2014

One comment

  1. Cecil B. DeMille

    Ubiquity of technology – good or ill – often precedes its acceptance. It is an erosion of the will to see things proliferate against it. The thought police are fast approaching, and the glimmer of light within our oubliettes is blocked by a drone with a camera and a badge. It is our charge to find freedom within the electronic walls we’ve allowed, and to avoid the apocalyptic systems of belief that cause the knee-jerk acceptance of surveillance in the guise of protection. We have proven, as a society, to be poor stewards of information, both our own and that of others. To proliferate the amount of information, damning or not, is a road to ruin.