Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Space and Psychological Frontiers

I think it is interesting that this week pairs Jameson with Manovich and to see the extent in which space can be taken as a theoretical object of inquiry. Jameson's paper, "Cognitive Mapping" begins with a call for a "new aesthetic," though it is one of which Jameson "know[s] nothing whatsoever" other than its nonexistence (347). This "new aesthetic" would for Jameson seek a a conception of totality in whatever means possible in the "new space" of postmodernism. This new space Jameson argues,
involves the suppression of distance (in the sense of Benjamin's aura) and the relentless saturation of any remaining voids and empty places, to the point where the postmodern body--whether wandering through a postmodern hotel, locked into rock sound by means of headphones, or undergoing the multiple shocks and bombardments of the Vietnam War as Michael Herr conveys it to us--is now exposed to a perceptual barrage of immediacy from which all sheltering layers and intervening mediations have been removed. (351)
In this space of "immediacy" there is a fundamental problem of conceiving a "social totality," which for Jameson, from his Marxist framework, results in a situation in which "no properly socialist politics is possible." It is interesting to think if Jameson's call for the cognitive map prefigures something like new/digital media, like David has suggested, could be a possible means to recognize the aesthetic that would make a conception of the "social totality" possible. What I think is most interesting though is not how we can think digital media as means of exposing "power" structures (I think Jameson might be disinterested in this term), but rather how these emergent technologies and media reinforce the "suppression of a distance." I wonder how technologies that supposedly can map, even in real-time, hinder our ability to actually imagine totality and reinforce notions of a mapped, connected, or networked globe that further distance a graspable social.

No comments: