The Digital Sublime: Myth, Power, and Cyberspace
by Vincent Mosco
[Mosco, Vincent. 2005. The Digital Sublime: Myth, Power, and Cyberspace. MIT Press.]
- “computers and the world of what came to be called cyberspace embody and drive important myths about our time. Powered by computer communication, we would,according to the myths, experience an epochal transformation in human experience that would transcend time (the end of history), space (the end of geography), and power (the end of politics)” (2-3).
- “it is when technologies such as the telephone and the computer cease to be sublime icons of mythology and enter the prosaic world of banality—when they lose their role as sources of utopian visions—that they become important forces for social and economic change” (6).
- “cyberspace is a mythic space, one that transcends the banal, day-to-day worlds of time, space, and politics to match the “naked truth” of reason with the “dancing truth” of ritual, song, and storytelling (Lozano 1992: 213). Indeed,cyberspace is a central force in the growth of three of the central myths of our time, each linked in the vision of an end point: the end of history, the end of geography, and the end of politics” (13).
- “the real power of new technologies does not appear during their mythic period, when they are hailed for their ability to bring world peace, renew communities, or end scarcity, history, geography, or politics; rather, their social impact is greatest when technologies become banal—when they literally (as in the case of electricity) or figuratively withdraw into the woodwork” (19).
Continue reading Mosco—The Digital Sublime
Cultural Intimacy: Social Poetics in the Nation-State
by Michael Herzfeld
[Herzfeld, Michael. 2005. Cultural Intimacy: Social Poetics in the Nation-State. 2 edition. New York: Routledge.]
- big question = “what advantages [do] social actors find in using, reformulating, and recasting official idioms in the pursuit of often highly unofficial personal goals, and how [do] these actions—so often in direct contravention of state authority—actually constitute the state as well as a huge range of national and other identities” (2).
- “the nation-state’s claims to affixed, eternal identity grounded in universal truth are themselves, like the moves of all social actors, strategic adjustments to the demands of the historical moment” (5).
- KEY POINT (acc. to Herzfeld) = the idea of the polity—nation-state, local community, or international body—succeeds to the extent that its formal ideology encapsulates (or incorporates) all the inward flaws and imperfections to which it is officially and ostensibly opposed” (220).
- Anthropologists should adopt the combination of a “top down” and “bottom up” approach, located at what Herzfeld calls a “militant middle ground.” This ground is not only a space where cultural intimacy and its use/characteristics are taken into consideration as coming equally from the state and the individuals, but also a space wherein the anthropologists takes a stance of cultural relativism, while maintaining their own personal ethical and moral beliefs (taking action if deemed necessary).
- To shrug off binarism as a structuralist conceit is a mistake. Binarism and other essentialism play important parts of social life, and thus should be embraced by ethnography. It is important to note, however, that these binarisms act as convenient ways of describing the world, and should not be used as or confused with an abstract theoretical position.
cultural intimacy—”the recognition of those aspects of a cultural identity that are considered a source of external embarrassment but that nevertheless provide insiders with their assurance of common sociality, the familiarity with the bases of power that may at one moment assure the disenfranchised a degree of creative irreverence and at the next moment reinforce the effectiveness of intimidation” (3)
disemia—”the formal or coded tension between official self-presentation and what goes on in the privacy of collective introspection” (14).
structural nostalgia—”the longing for an age before the state, for the primordial and self regulating birthright that the state continually invoke” (22). Continue reading Herzfeld—Cultural Intimacy