An enjoyable read- not as good as Transmission or My Revolutions but kunzru's talent and descriptive evocative and wide ranging intellect shines forth...moreAn enjoyable read- not as good as Transmission or My Revolutions but kunzru's talent and descriptive evocative and wide ranging intellect shines forth never the less(less)
With the waning sovereignty of nation states as more and more people get linked up in global (or, if you prefer, translocal) process of trade, immigra...moreWith the waning sovereignty of nation states as more and more people get linked up in global (or, if you prefer, translocal) process of trade, immigration or the interconnection of information technology, new forms of organization - massive, almost beyond our comprehension- are emerging. Kunzru's book, situated across the globe, highlighting the strange interconnections between strangers, speaks to the outlines of these forms, giving them faces, highlighting the connections wrought by IT and the "flow" of transnational capital and challenging the reader to try and understand the world we live in. Yet this is not a multi-sited ethnography of globalization but a work of fiction and for purely literary merit this book shines forth. It was one of those books that I picked up and the sheer brilliance of the writing and the plot, the echos of ideas, the strange connections compelled me to not put it down. The literary aspect of the book means that Kunzru explores subject formation and how deeply personal, cultural beliefs become cosmopolitan as people enter the integrated circuit of global capitalism. Globalization thus emerges not as an impersonal boogyman, the spread of a calculating rational neoliberalism which reforms the world in its image, but as a more complex interaction between people's identity, the market and the transportation and information structures that define our era. Globalization is articulated in local forms and local forms become central to global processes, the exploited indian programmers are not ruled by the processes of that define their lives but they enter into a dialectical relationship, re-forming and asserting their own agency within this global processes. The book poses many of the best problems of modern theories of globalization- How are individuals agentic in the face of global processes, how does technology redefine who we are and how we interact with the world, what is the role of advertising or the nationstate, what happens when very different cultures and moral systems all are integrated into the same economic system. etc. etc.
This book is well worth the reed, a pleasurable and thought provoking page turner. Its scope and clarity, intellectual rigor and commitment to level switching in the systems that make our currant age speak powerfully beyond the page. His writing is reminiscent of Zadie Smith or Amitav Ghosh in the way it explores identity and global forms. I plan on reading all the other books he has written (My Revolutions, also by him, was similarly amazing though dealing with an entirely different set of intellectual and moral questions about political praxis today). (less)
Sloterdijk looks at how the atmosphere is utilized and politicized in modern times, beginning with its weaponization with the use of nerve gas by the...moreSloterdijk looks at how the atmosphere is utilized and politicized in modern times, beginning with its weaponization with the use of nerve gas by the germans in WW1. He connects this attack on the atmosphere of the person with terrorism, which he conceives of as the expanded arena of warfare where distinctions between combatant and civilian deteriorate and the person must always be ready to be under attack. This use of "atmo-terrorism" is what sloterdijk uses to mark the beginning of (post)modernity. The book follows this line of thought into the arts- demonstrating how the avant guarde seems to utilize the same techniques simultaneously being created by the powers that be.
I found the book interesting in its discussion of the modern "total war". However, his argument to me seemed bogged down in attempts to be trendy- his extensive ironic invocation of Heidegger ("being-in-the-world can never be being-on-fire") and his over the top, mildly conspiratorial assertions (the US government is building a weather machine). I also found that he was bad at defining his terms (terrorism/atmosphere/atmo-terrorism), that he lacked a historical perspective (where are the discussions of previous eras, certainly terrorism, total war, and attack on people's environment have historical precursors) and that for someone with such a phenomenological bent, he focused solely on air (ignoring the weaponization of soundscapes for example). (less)
I wanted to read this book to help me build a framework to understand the vague outlines of post-structuralism which I can hopefully fill in later as...moreI wanted to read this book to help me build a framework to understand the vague outlines of post-structuralism which I can hopefully fill in later as I read the actual theorist. The book starts with Saussure and a brief summary of structuralism. From there it proceeds to give brief summaries of a whole range of theorist: Althusser, Barthes, Derrida, Foucault, Kristeva, Lacan, Levi-strauss, Lyotard and even Zizek.
There was a heavy emphasis on Psychoanalysis and Lit theory which was disappointing as I hoped there would be more anthropologists. The main argument seemed to be that the project of post-structuralism was to question the reality of the signfied and thus empasis the subjective and contingent nature of language and thus truth. However, the book still believed that there were important political and artistic projects to be undertaken, though the emphasis seemed to be on projects not in the real world but in the towers of academia. Overall, the book was an easy read and probably just as good as spending a couple hours on wikipedia to build a strong base of knowledge.