Re: [-empyre-] Is Modernity our Antiquity

I don't know Henry... false consciousness? We can at least say that the theories and histories of the modern and the postmodern interoperate for now. I don't know if there is a new attractor or new critical framework that has emerged or is emerging that is worthy of being considered epochal... but I suspect one. I'm very interested in how computation intersects and catalyzes the modern to postmodern to N-speculative transition... but that is another post... literally... apparently not on point for this discussion...

But certainly the modern and postmodern interoperate today not only in terms of how we view art practices in a critical sense, but in how they continue to generatively guide current art practices, consciously or unconsciously, compliantly or resistively, assuming copious entropy and plurality too. We are thrown in the culture we bootstrap from... that we are having the discussion is evidence.

For example all of the discourses on digital mixing/remixing and peer-to-peer networks; they are still very much bound to postmodernism, most specifically the issue of appropriation, at the same time they explore contemporary modalities (and sometimes legalities) of appropriation. Are they the limit of concern or exclusive frameworks intersecting such practices? No. But nevertheless, in 100, 1000, 10,000 years when these might well be obscure genealogies, it would still be accurate to discuss issues of postmodernist appropriation and relation to the digital as reflecting contemporary thought and issues for the remixers. Agreed, if anyone by then cares;-)

If consciousness is something we produce together, then M and P-M and perhaps N-speculative will keep playing out. I could add to this archaic art to the romantic... all have aspects that are still in play in M and P-M, and wherever we are in our contemporary. And some of these eras had profoundly different energy policies;-)

But if you are arguing that they should be consciously dispensed with as much as possible in practice moving forward - that they lack something we need today, that they are part of our comfortable wealth where even war is something we do fairly blithely... Well, sure. Will some other epoch come from adjusting to the coming energy shock? I would not rule that out...

Henry Warwick wrote:

In this debate, I don't agree with any of it.

I am of the opinion that Postmodernity is a false consciousness, based on a Modernity that never really existed.

Push your time out, and you'll see what I mean.

100, 1000, 10,000 years.

These issues flicker and fade quickly in deeper time, but the drive of "art making" continues - we adorn and we admire, we hold something as special, and we (today) call it art. That continues across the ages, and will continue to do so.

I think there is only "The Contemporary". This isn't a "master narrative" or a critique of such. It's simply looking at things with some perspective and humility. I think it might be more productive to discuss things in terms of various axia; time, space, class, work- practice...

time: 1960 ce
space: USA
class: middle
work-practice: wage slave

time:  23,000 bce
space: Spain
class: Not Applicable
work-practice: hunter gatherer

or find other axia of illumination - some might be more useful or interesting than others...

But to finally dispense with the dreary academic arguments regarding "Modernity", "PostModernity", etc. would be a great stride for the species. As it is, it seems the world is collectively farting sawdust with such debate.

Frankly, I think the consumption of energy is more responsible for the creation of so-called "Modern World", and its depletion is responsible for its demise.

In the 18th century, we started heavily mining coal. Soon, the first "Modern" age of classicalism appeared. In 1859 oil was pulled out of the ground in Pennsylvania. One year later, the USA had a Revolution. Within a few decades, we were well into the petroleum age, and the notion of "Modernity" appeared, as the technological substrate for its appearance was created by the one time gift of 2 trillion barrels of liquified stored solar energy.

In 1979, the global consumption of energy as distributed on a per capita basis, peaked and began to decilne, even though petroleum mining continued to increase in actual volume. The Next Thing You Know, we're in a "Post-Modern world". According to some, global production of petroleum peaked on 16 December 2005. We'll only know in hindsight in a few years if this is true or not. If so, it only makes sense that we're talking about a post-postModernity (or some equally arbitrary notion) of Civilisation. The salient characteristic of this cultural moment could well be the slide down the other side of Hubbert's Peak - the Culture of Depletion.

Cultural actors can't be neutral during that phase. If mishandled, the results are extinction, or worse: a long slide into horror. The kind of "aloofness" and "obscurity" fostered by PostModern (tm) and rightfully criticised (Habermas, Sokal, etc.) will be replaced with a more pointed multi-axis struggle, where the ultimate Petroleum State (the USA Empire) slides away from unipolar dominance into being one of several regional hegemons (with EU, China, Russia, India, etc.) competing for the last few resources to keep their war machines going.

Once the multi-polar system fails under the weight of its own entropic depletion curve, history will once again be forced to reckon with the Contemporary, only this time, on a permanent basis. I call that the "Permanent Contemporary", where even the notion of one's own time disappears. Small strokes of history will re-appear - someone will pull something out of the ancient landfills that has some "time" in it - perhaps an "Art History" book. Even in translation, it won't make sense, and the pictures will seem as if they were from another planet. A planet of steel, glass, concrete, and a rare mysterious substance called "Oil".

In any case, any number of projections can be made from any number of axia (PosterModern relativism combined with its parent, Modernist Universalism, at your service...) but some will prove more useful than others - the focus won't be on "everything goes". It will be on "go with everything that works - but GO!"

Linear systems are a tiny subset of non-linear systems.

Personally, I prefer to live in the Permanent Contemporary, now.

"No time like the present!"

dispeptically exhausted and cranky as usual, I give you all my kindest regards,

Henry Warwick
empyre forum

-- Brett Stalbaum, Lecturer, PSOE Coordinator, Interdisciplinary Computing and the Arts Major (ICAM) UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, SAN DIEGO Department of Visual Arts 9500 GILMAN DR. # 0084 La Jolla CA 92093-0084

Info for students, winter quarter 2K6:
-ICAM and Media (computing emphasis) faculty advising:
Tuesday 1-2PM, VAF 206, Contact via email
-Vis 40/ICAM 40 (Introduction/Computing in Arts) office hour:
Tuesday 2-3PM, VAF 206, Contact via WebCT
-Vis 141A (Computer Programming/Arts I) office hour:
Tuesday 3-4PM, VAF 206, Contact: via WebCT
- Notes:
Week 7 (Feb 21st) No office hours today
Finals Week (March 21st) Yes.

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