Thursday, February 6, 2014

A Post-Modernism Post

“Perhaps the crescendo of this gloom came only a decade and a half ago when anthropologist Marc Augé made his dismal conclusion about the nature of human interaction in physical space in his Non-Places: Introduction to an Anthropology of Supermodernity. Augé suggests that our sense of place, as old as humanity, is coming to an end. Building on Marcel Mauss’s idea of place as a “culture localized in time and space,” Augé distinguishes places—locations in which individuals with distinct identities form human relationships that in turn accrete, creating the sediments of history—from non-places—spaces of transition absent of identity, human relationships, or the traces of history. Augé’s non-places are in-between spaces…” (Varnelis 18)

Varnelis’ use of the word gloom foreshadows humanity’s seemingly inevitable decline. Post-modern literature is thick with the robotic suburb battlefields and global decay found in Paolo Bacigalupi’s short story The People of Sand and Slag. Additionally, Philip K. Dick’s novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep projects the lost capacity for emotive response in humans common throughout post-modernity. Yet authors wage hypothetical wars in recognizable, semi-measurable spaces. These senses of “place, as old as humanity, [are] coming to an end.” The emergence of a new dimension, entirely hand-crafted is as invisible as imagination without key components such as viable power-sources, network connections and accessible databases. This intangibly populated model fits Varnelis' paradoxical frame described as “spaces of transition absent of identity, human relationships, or the traces of history.” Non-spaces exist with relevance because we (mortal gods) assign importance to them. The world wide web spread like a plague, statistically congruent with rising instances of obesity and ADHD. How does an army of 7.5 billion not-so-strong fight this invisible foe? Post-modernists predict mass extinction of humanity as we know it, and I predict the next world war will take place in a non-space inhabiting every home, market and government agency. The rise of the Internet marks the fall of geographic divides; countries formerly claiming terrain will fight to control a virtual realm instead. Gloomy is just one way to describe a robotic age—whether referring to technological animism or sub-human humans. However, if Varnelis’ non-spaces truly are in the state of in-between, the future’s pivot could shift any direction like a Deleuzian Rhizome. Humanity's survival is both determined and patterned after the collective force effectively connecting the past with the future.