Computer Communications and the Self

Poster lists four effects that computer communications (email, chat groups, etc) have on the self: “1 they introduce new possibilities for playing with identities; 2 they degender communications by removing gender cues; 3 they destabilize existing hierarchies in relationships and . . . . Continue Reading »

Computers, subjects and objects

Descartes famously contrasted the mind (res cogitans) with the external world (res extensa), but Mark Poster suggests that computer writing fudges that distinction: “the computer dematerializes the written trace. As inputs are made to the computer through the keyboard, pixels of phosphor are . . . . Continue Reading »

Community and New Communications

Mark Poster points to a tension between the modern institutions of production and the postmodern technologies of communication, particularly as they impact the formation of the self: “If modernity or the mode of production signifies patterned practices that elicit identities as autonomous and . . . . Continue Reading »


Prior to World War I, Telefon Hirmondo, the telephone system of Budapest, was used as a broadcast system, with a published schedule of programs that were restricted to certain classes of people in Hungary. Only later did it develop into a communications system in which everyone could pass . . . . Continue Reading »


Consumerism is a popular category of analysis, but what exactly does it mean? How is consumerism or the consumer society different from anything else? Haven’t every economies had producers and consumers? In his The Romantic Ethic and the Spirit of Modern Consumerism , Colin Campbell offers . . . . Continue Reading »

Aesthetic proletariat

Bohemians, Featherstone suggests, were the first “true artistic proletariat,” living next to lower class people in low-rent areas of the larger cities, and imitating the lifestyle of the lower classes: “They cultivated similar manners, valuing spontaneity, an anti-systematic work . . . . Continue Reading »

Aestheticization of life

Featherstone isolates three aspects of the postmodern aestheticization of daily life: 1) Artistic movements such as Dada and Surrealism attempt to break down the boundary between art and daily life by turning toilets and such into art objects. This is both an attempt to “dissemble . . . . Continue Reading »

Theater of the Absurd

In a lecture on Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, Ian Johnston makes this helpful distinction between existentialist drama and the Theater of the Absurd. “In the Theatre of the Absurd the protagonists are discovered in a world which they do not, indeed they cannot, . . . . Continue Reading »

Postmodern mathesis

Modernity attempts to spatialize time, and to chart temporally shifting reality in a fixed mathesis. So argues Catherine Pickstock at least. But in this sense postmodernism is hypermodernism. Featherstone notes that MTV “seems to exist in a timeless present with video artists ransacking film . . . . Continue Reading »

Turn of the Century Bobos

Mike Featherstone, expounding on the “aestheticitization of everyday life” that he claims is characteristic of the postmodern ethos, notes that similar motifs are evident in the early development of the fashion industry: “The intensified place of fashion increases our . . . . Continue Reading »