Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Stuck in the Heat on the 405
I would like to focus on the final paragraph of Appadurai's 2nd page and the 1st paragraph of the 3rd.
His notion of "cultural traffic" -- the steady onslaught of automobiles of newspapers, novels, of western-bound trains and the airplane, of data recovery services and the depth of google -- paints a somewhat terrifying and dismal picture for the "schizophrenic" world we inhabit. Drawing on the contrast between theories of "rootlessness, alienation and psychological distance between individuals and groups" and "fantasies (or nightmares) of electronic propinquity...", he closes in on the "central problematic of cultural processes in today's world".
Similar in this academic description to multiple other media giants' opinions (ie. Cortazar's Autopista del sur, Goddard's Weekend traffic scene, or even Snow Crash'sdystopic, viral community, I find myself questioning the negative outlook Appadurai presents.
Granted, our communities (local or global or glocal or lobal) are increasingly interwoven and complex, increasingly frustrating, I believe that the onset of every new -scape, for example technoscape, requires not a rolling of the eyes and a feeling of defeat but rather a new excitement for the every-changing world in which we live. What Appadurai seems to miss is the ability our generation has to adapt to and change with (most of) life's cultural mishaps.
Perhaps this is simply the voice of a 20-year old student, part of a new generation well-versed in the schizophrenic styles of Facebook (click to see my ex-boyfriend, click onwards to read what max- you've heard his name ! - is saying), of climate change (it's here, it's not, it's worse, it's surrounding us, it's surrounding them) , of politics (Bush to Obama, any greater change would have killed us all but it's what we want.), of language (your mom jokes used to be cool right?, Dane Cook's humour was the way to go, bootylicious wasn't in the dictionary, AIM language was acceptable). But what seems to be to be characteristic of this new cultural age is precisely this always moving, gotta keep up energy that the author finds chaotic.
In a way, this growing cultural traffic jam and overstimulation means always looking forward (no longer living in the present?, which naturally has it's problems...), always having one's Blackberry nearby to receive texts and emails (gotta get me one), always being ready to head to the hills when the floods come (literally.), but hey, we'll do it. Right?