Reality Sandwich: Of Campfires and Computers

November 11th, 2008 | Category: Announcements, Essays

When Daniel Pinchbeck invited me to write something for Reality Sandwich, I sifted thorugh the piles of pieces I was already working on (some of which have been developed on this site) and put this together. It’s sort of an amalgamated excerpt from my book-in-progress. Here’s a polemical taste:

James Howard Kunstler uses a computer systems metaphor to discuss our built environment, with the networks of the built environment as “hardware” and people’s social roles within those networks as “software,” but that’s where his insight stops. “Computers only assisted predatory corporations in more successfully parasitizing existing value in victimized localities,” he wrote. “They were most efficient at sucking the lifeblood out of complex communities” (The Long Emergency, 2006, p. 221). This latter attitude is part of the problem. Every line we draw between what’s “natural” and what’s “technological” gets crossed (and moved) as our world becomes more and more technologically mediated. Kunstler’s line is closer to the forest where others’ are closer to the fray, but neither a Heideggerian disdain for all technology (he saw no differentiation between atomic bombs and bridges) nor a gadget-headed geekiness will change the reality of the situation. We shape our tools and our tools shape us, as McLuhan put it.

Here’s the full essay.

Many thanks to Daniel Pinchbeck and Ken Jordan for putting this out there. Stay tuned.

Further Posting: