Category Archives: Reviews

From Modernism to Postmodernism and Philosophy of Technology

In short, that contradictions must be accepted. — David Jones

To unify the thing that is postmodernism might sound futile at the outset, but Lawrence Cahoone’s anthology From Modernism to Postmodernism (Blackwell) sets out to do just that. The very term “postmodernism” is fraught with misconception, misuse, and implies an adherence to fragmentation over unity. Cahoone’s selections combat this by demonstrating postmodernism’s origins, its disparate applications and definitions in different fields, and the ongoing debates about what exactly it all means. From Descartes and Hume to Nietzche and Sartre, and from the post-structuralists (e.g., Foucault, Derrida, Deleuze and Guittari, etc.) to the architects (e.g., Le Corbusier and Robert Venturi), Cahoone’s anthology provides an excellent overview of an inherently fractured lens on the world. (more…)

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Dispositions by McKenzie Wark

Armed with only a notebook and a GPS device, McKenzie Wark set out against the world in words. Each entry of Dispositions (Salt Publishing) is marked by Wark’s global position, and the date and time of entry. The style is part journal, part epic poem and in turns reminds me of the oblique observations of Jean Baudrillard, the playful verse of Lewis Carroll, and the incessant wordplay of James Joyce. Subsequently, Dispositions is rife with astute observations, memorable aphorisms, and quotable bon mots. Ground covered includes Deleuze and Guitarri, DJ Spooky, Walter Benjamin, 9/11, and lots of locales in New York City and Europe. (more…)

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Dead Cities by Mike Davis

The ground on which you walk is the tongue with which I talk — Saul Williams

Mike Davis gives voice to just what the hell we’ve done to our environment, what’s transpiring in the gaps in our relationships with each other, and what goes on underneath the deep and wide footprint of our rampant urban development. Dead Cities (The New Press) is a postmortem excavation of our postmodern urbanscape, a conjugation of all the verbs at work in the human condition. (more…)

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Investigations by Stuart Kauffman

Stuart Kauffman has been probing the “deep structure” of life for decades. He is one of the founding members of the Santa Fe Institute, the leading center for the emerging sciences of complexity. His work therein started in complex Boolean networks in which he found “order for free” in a void seeming to consist of nothing but chaos. This lead him to highly dynamical yet self-structuring autocatalytic sets (now known as “Kauffman sets”) which eventually lead him to search for a general biology from which all of life could extrapolate. Kauffman never was much for neo-Darwinism or natural selection, and here he continues his holistic approach to self-organizing biospheres. (more…)

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CTRL [SPACE] Edited by Thomas Y. Levin, Ursula Frohne, and Peter Weibel

They’re everywhere: tiny cameras, webcams, security cameras… video-capturing devices are almost as ubiquitous as the banner ads for them: “Watch anyone, anytime.” We’re all stuck somewhere between reality TV and a TV reality. Following the panopticon from an eighteenth century architectural drawing by Jeremy Bentham to the pervasive surveillance of the twenty-first century, CTRL [SPACE] is a comprehensive history of watching and being watched. (more…)

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