Modernity

S. Toulmin's Cosmopolis
Reproduction of cover of S. Toulmin's Cosmopolis.

Many have started to talk about postmodernism. Is modernism really dead? Paul Celan is one person who struggled with this question. Others were the Situationists. What is home?

Apropos of exodus, I recently found the Alhambra decree by which the Spanish Jews were expelled from Spain, as well as Isaac Abravanel's brilliant reply. Many of the Sephardi Jews went to Turkey. They also made many contributions to Kabbalah.

Speaking of Sephardi and Ashkenazi, Prof. Brinner and I have put together a page on Jewish languages.

More recently, for post-modernism there is the on-line journal of theory and culture, as well as a journal on postmodern culture. With all the "good" thinking on the Left, it was time for some misbehaviour! So there is Bad Subjects, those folx who refuse to go along behamishly, but would rather resist, be bad subjects.

Here I will attempt to to give my thoughts on modernity, and to give some alternatives to the usual vision of what modernity can be.

Sometime in 1995, Ken Goldberg and I had a dialogue regarding Adam, Golem and Robots.
Check out Jenny Cool's take on modernity through her films and her work as well an essay on Haraway.


My most recent work in this area is connected to the thoughts and paper on modernity spurred by my thoughts on philosophy, as well as the talk I gave at the Society for Anthropology of Consciousness Conference in Berkeley. Mira Zussman and I have also written a paper on language and physics.

There are some obvious connections to other interests I have, like the performances I have given, as well as to my interests in Beauty. This arose out of my long-standing desire to make sense of this new culture I came to. My analytical bend naturally tried to analyze things, so that politix was a place I tried to go. I have tried hard to understand this, so can give just a few thoughts: I was raised with the idea of Progress - I could see it written with a capital P. Only recently have I questioned the premise of this.

Cover of TAZ by H. Bey.
Reproduction of cover of H. Bey's T. A. Z.

It felt at first uncomfortable to question Progress, since most questions so far had come from the right, and I did not feel that was my location, politically. Yet, the question would not go away. Indeed, our idea of ourselves as modernists is rather olde, heir to the thoughts of Des Cartes and Newton and then the Enlightenment. Rationality, then generalized as Reason, defined the main ( only?) method of understanding the World. It was a world with infinite resources, infinite in size, made up of people loosely linked to each other, with the European people the clear superior, (though this point was rarely made explicit, it was implied). Rationality would allow us to understand and then exploit this world, to the end of making life much easier for ourselves. Reason, by itself, would show us how to do this, and it would be the final arbiter on any course of action. Implied not so explicitly in this was the idea that feelings, emotions were part of the self to be controlled, minimized, repressed (destroyed ?).

Yet this has failed. We see now the return of the Repressed. It would be better to have the return to the Repressed. Perhaps then we can dissolve the cop culture we live in and begin to weave our Criminal (Quilting) Bee .


Serpent Lord
Reproduction from J. Campbell's Occidental Mythologies.

(To the Ladder/Tree)

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