Futurisms: Critiquing the project to reengineer humanity

Friday, October 30, 2009

Life blahg, cont'd

On a somewhat related note, enjoy this Volstein from the cover of the latest issue of The New Yorker:


  1. The epigraph atop the first chapter of Daniel Boorstin's classic book The Image:

    ADMIRING FRIEND: "My, that's a beautiful baby you have there!"

    MOTHER: "Oh, that's nothing — you should see his photograph!"

  2. This one's too subtle for me, which sometimes happens with something the New Yorker throws at me--and me being incurably addicted to the thing. "Unmasked", the title goes. Too busy with lifelogging to put on a costume, is that it?

  3. I believe that the cartoon isn't about lifelogging but the way that our immersion in digital technologies is taking us away from actually experiencing the world. I think we're meant to contrast the warm glow on the faces of the trick-or-treating children (produced by the light of houses in the course of a childhood ritual) with the glow on the faces of the parents (produced by the smartphones that distract them from all but the most marginal participation in the evening's events).

  4. Perhaps yours is the right interpretation, Ari. Then again, maybe the parents are taking pictures of their kids, to put in their e-scrapbook; you never know about those direct experiences. The cover is brilliant, in its bleak tranquility.

  5. You may be right, Ted, though the parents certainly seem to be immersed in the smart phones and not pointing them at or even paying attention to their children (they are all looking down and one is even looking in the opposite direction).

    Even if they were taking pictures, there is still some concern, as I indicated in the post to which this one is a follow-up, that, in excess, the drive to record every second of life (much greater today than it has been for the past century of the camera's existence) impedes the actual living of it. One way or the other, the parents here certainly seem to be oblivious to the "bleak tranquility" (as you nicely put it) and all of the other worldly experiences of a Halloween evening.

  6. Thanks, Ari. I tried very hard but couldn't agree with you more. 'Unmediated' experience is becoming increasingly rare and alien to us. We'd rather revere celebrities than rake the backyard. And yes, I do think those activities are mutually exclusive.


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