Jun 24, 2020Liked by L. M. Sacasas

What I've read of Taylor had to do with "multiple modernities" and modernity as a collection of different "social imaginaries," which are all very European. So I wonder if you or anyone else here has come across the "modernity as coloniality" thesis (Anibal Quijano) to widen the view. It is new to me but surely must have some engagement with Lyotard and postmodernity, which is still very colonialist. In fact, the "breakdown of metanarratives" seems to be a very "white" phenomenon exposing the rifts, scars, mixing, tearing, and wounds others have always seen and embodied. So, maybe it is not surprising that a new, strong consensus may emerge from the voices of coloniality. Whether it is "intersectionality" or just a generational perspective, I have been stunned by people in their teens and 20s now who are able to put together a very unified narrative centred on their families' displacement across the globe and see how all the usual -isms of blame and identity are united in a single death-dealing machine of growth, development, and unconsidered externalities that will eat us all, if we continue to participate.

Perhaps "narrative collapse" is not just the result of an inherently unmanageable Database but of the refusal to manage it, from media monopolies and oligarchs of unprecedented scope and influence to parents who can't parent and teachers who can't teach without screen saturated lives. What is unique about the age of the Database is this sense of a spinning wheel you've suggested — not just the loss of hands on it but so many hands accessing it with such velocity and at varying (usually small) degrees of aribitrary pressure, it is just an index of aggregate anxiety in the total system, like the stock market, or the deck of the Titanic, and nobody at any level thinks they have or can have control. They're all in reaction, all the time.

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Dan, Quijano is new to me, so thank you for the suggestion. It is certainly the case that Taylor is chiefly dealing with western culture. I'd agree, too, that the metanarrative framing veiled the rifts, etc. that would've been obvious to others who stood outside as it were.

I'm going to think a bit about your wondering if we're simply refusing to manage the Database. That certainly is part of the problem, but I do wonder what shape that managing can take, certainly not mastery, which then speaks to your point about the spinning wheel experience (which was an apt metaphor).

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