By Lee Siegel
From the writer hailed through the New York occasions ebook evaluation for his “drive-by brilliance” and dubbed by means of the New York Times Magazine as “one of the country’s such a lot eloquent and acid-tongued critics” comes a ruthless problem to the normal knowledge in regards to the so much consequential cultural improvement of our time: the web.
Of direction the web isn't something or one other; if something, its boosters declare, the net is every little thing without delay. It’s develop into not just our basic medium for verbal exchange and data but in addition where we visit store, to play, to discuss, to discover love. Lee Siegel argues that our ever-deepening immersion in life on-line doesn’t simply reshape the standard rhythms of our days; it additionally reshapes our minds and tradition, in methods with which we haven’t but reckoned. the net and its cultural correlatives and by-products—such because the dominance of fact tv and the increase of the “bourgeois bohemian”—have grew to become privateness into functionality, play into trade, and harassed “self-expression” with artwork. or even as know-how authorities ply their exchange using the language of freedom and democracy, we cede a growing number of keep watch over of our freedom and individuality to the wishes of the machine—that confluence of commercial and know-how whose barriers now stretch to surround just about all human task.
Siegel’s argument isn’t a Luddite intervention opposed to the web itself yet particularly a bracing allure for us to take care of how it is remodeling us all. Dazzlingly erudite, filled with startlingly unique insights, and buoyed by way of sharp wit, Against the Machine will strength you to work out our culture—for larger and worse—in a completely new way.
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Extra info for Against the Machine: Being Human in the Age of the Electronic Mob
With classical philosophy, from the sixth century BC onwards, it is different. In philosophers like Thales, Parmenides and Heraclitus, writing comes into its own for the first time as a transformer of thought. In mature Greek philosophy, particularly in Plato and Aristotle (fifth and fourth centuries BC), ideas are being formulated that would literally have been unthinkable without writing. Plato’s dialogues and Aristotle’s treatises consist of logically coherent, lengthy strings of reasoning, clear definitions and meta-discussions of the nature of language and words, all of which presupposes a clear distinction between a concept and its object.
The clock is more accurate and more minute (literally) than the calendar. It measures time as well as cutting it into quantifiable segments. In spite of its initially religious function, the clock rapidly spread to coordinate other fields of activity as well. The Dutch thinker Hugo Grotius (1583–1645) formulated a moral maxim which illustrates this. ) In the same way as writing externalises language, clocks externalise time. Time becomes ‘something’ existing independently of human experience, something objective and measurable.
And the Internet? Forget it. Seen from a perspective of cultural history, agriculture is a footnote, while modernity is a footnote under a footnote, if duration is all that counts. Hunters and gatherers, who were humanity for more than 90 per cent of our species history, have gradually been displaced to the most isolated and marginal parts of the world – the Arctic semi-desert, the Australian desert, the central African rainforest – and have been replaced by horticulturalists and agriculturalists with rapidly increasing population densities, before the phenomenal growth of industrial and informational society during the last couple of centuries.