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Foundations of Science

, Volume 18, Issue 1, pp 149–153 | Cite as

Luddite Interventions: on the Poetics of Catastrophe and the Art of Criticism

  • Kurt Vanhoutte
Commentary

Abstract

As an art theoretician, and as a father, I focus on the social and political consequences of Vanderbeeken’s postmodernist negative theology. I express doubts about the relevance of a poetics of catastrophe that conflates any possible alternative to the alleged technocracy under the sign of the simulacrum. To my opinion, the discourse about the virtual and the real are in a deadlock. Following the lead of American novelist Thomas Pynchon, I rephrase these critical doubts in Luddite terms: should we imagine a counterattack as radical as the alleged dystopian nightmare dreamed up and sketched out by Vanderbeeken? I try to show that this line of thinking risks to result in a bold and speculative logic where ethical nuance collapses and, ultimately, the relationship between art, theory and the social culture is reduced to metaphorical analogy. To make this point I retake a critical, phenomenologically inspired reaction by Vivian Sobchack to Baudrillard’s account of Crash, J.G. Ballard’s controversial novel on techno-fetishism. My argument is that the scar that marks Sobchack’s ‘technobody’ might here stand for an alternative that approaches our technological condition not as a discursive machine but as a social pragmatics with deep ethical implications.

Keywords

Postmodernism Simulacrum Paranoia Technological condition Ethics 

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References

  1. Ballard, J. G. (1973). Crash. London: Jonathan capeGoogle Scholar
  2. Baudrillard, J. (1976). Ballard’s crash. In Science fiction studies, 18(3) November 1991, pp. 313–320.Google Scholar
  3. Pynchon, T. (1984). Is it O.K to be a Luddite? In The New York times book review. October 28, 1984. http://www.nytimes.com/books/97/05/18review/pynchon-luddite.html.
  4. Pynchon, T. (2003). “The road to 1984” foreword to a 2003 edition of Nineteen Eighty-Four. In The Guardian, May 3, 2003.Google Scholar
  5. Sobchack V. (1991) Baudrillard’s obscenity. Science Fiction Studies 18(3): November 1991, pp. 327–329Google Scholar
  6. Venderbeeken R. (2011) The screen as an in-between. Foundations of Science, 16(2–3): 245–257CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Theatre and Film StudiesUniversity of AntwerpAntwerpBelgium

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