Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Suppression of Distance

In Jameson's "Cognitive Mapping", I first found very interesting a paradox he suggests when discussing the second stage of capitalism, "Monopoly Capital" or "Stage of Imperialism". He recognizes the multinational influence on every resident of an imperial nation. Because of this, he suggests that the views of a resident is a distortion of reality. Although there are these complex global influences, an individual (writer) focused on their small, confined perspective. Jameson even suggests that our welcoming of such opinions for our edification is an early form of "irony".

I find this passage particularly interesting in light of the implications of Jameson's desire for some type of aesthetic or art that captures the totality of the third stage of capitalist, what he calls "late capitalism". As suggested earlier by David and Sean, such a cognitive mapping may be possible, or closer to possible, with new media. However, the effect of new media, especially the internet, may be more than the possibility for cognitive mapping. While in the stage of imperialism, people were unaware or unable to grasp the international influences on their lives, the "suppression of distance" in late capitalism, and especially the effects of the internet, cause a hyper-awareness of global linkages for virtually all individuals. What is interesting to me is that this may result in a distortion of reality just as great as in the previous stage of capitalism. Having the whole world at our fingertips makes everyone "an expert", makes everyone "knowledgeable". Thus I think its possible that the aesthetic of the present day may extrapolate this knowledge to false causation, or false understanding of global linkages. In fact, new media may allow a common understanding of traditional historical influences, but there is no way to understand at this time the effects of this medium, new media. For this reason, I doubt any real possibility of cognitive mapping of the totality of the modern age.

(Although I suppose we should know by the final project...)

No comments: