Thursday, January 20, 2005

...certainTaylored postmodernists?

Unfortunately, Taylor’s “Yes” to network culture is often unqualified, turning his book into a paean to neo-liberal economics.


Stripped of the scientific jargon, this statement is neither new nor particularly exciting; 19th century social Darwinists such as Herbert Spencer would have heartily agreed.

In conclusion, while I believe that Taylor is correct in his critique of post-structuralism, that it offers an unqualified “No” often better left unspoken, Taylor’s own unqualified “Yes” is far more insidious.


While Taylor is right to insist that the academy is already imbricated in “corporate culture” through its reliance upon corporate donors and through its own bureaucratized structure, his critique of academic “autonomy” begs the question of whether the academy should still play any sort of critical role at all in the contemporary “network culture.” Taylor’s “survival of the fittest” model of society makes one doubt whether there is any room for scholarly integrity in a purely functional world.

Spot on. Except for the alleged "critique" of post-structuralism bit. From here (via here).

Update: For an alternative, maybe try this review (pdf) of Steven Shaviro's book, Connected, or What It Means to Live in the Network Society, in the latest issue of the excellent Janus Head. I'm no "network culture" theorist, but all this neo-Darwinian illness metaphor stuff sure sounds a bit like it could make use of Derrida's conception of 'auto-immunity', or an 'auto-immunitary logic'....

From "Better than (Real)Life: Cyberspace as Urban Space:"
Relating cyberspace to urban space is not simply a clever language game of analogy and signification. Instead the two concepts and experiences constitute an increasingly intertwined development of late capitalism and modernity. This development which when used to emphasise the contradictions and complexities of modernity can be described as a harbinger of postmodernity. Cyberspace is 'built' around pre-existing conceptualisations of the social world - of urban space and the social imaginary. The development of cyberspace is not premised solely upon the achievement of a particular techno-economic level of social development but also requires a previous articulation in the social imaginary of what can be described, with the benefit of hindsight, as pre-cyberspaces. Pre-cyberspaces that are formed through literature, mythology, science, religion or language shape the manner in which a cyberspace is mapped and consequently simulates 'reality'. The homesteading version of early Barlovian cyberspace while developed as a critique to the loss of community engendered through urbanism was only a brief precursor to subsequent urban development. Increasingly, with the persistence of cyberspace and its significance as a place in which forms of identity can be constructed, it has been brought into a relationship of reciprocal feedback with other urban space (Burrows 1997, p.238). Baudrillard�s charting of simulacra emphasises the complexity of this relationship, "The imaginary was the alibi for the real, in a world dominated by the reality principle. Today it is the real that has become the alibi of the model, in a world controlled by the principle of simulation. And paradoxically, it is the real that has become our true utopia - but a utopia that is no longer in the realm of the possible, that can only be dreamt of as one would dream of a lost object." (Baudrillard 1994, 122-123). The practices and artefacts, however, that are found in cyberspace cannot be construed as representative or meaningful of a generalised provenance, or a single space, requiring instead more sensitive and particular 'regional' readings. The suggestion that all urban space or cyberspace can be described with �meta-narratives� and generalisations should be treated cautiously. To do so in the context of cyberspace is to fetishise the artefacts of technology and ignore the variety and versions of human dimension in what is a socially constructed and culturally diverse space.

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