Thank you Amazon. Despite some frustrations with the Kindle Direct Publishing interface — which isn’t designed for editorial convenience — the excitement of disintermediation-in-action more than makes up for it. If the self-publishing system reached the stage where writers spent their time on the platform, as a work-space, in the same way they can on a blog today, the horizon of possibility would be pushed out to yet inconceivable distances.
Templexity aims to catalyze a theoretical coagulation where the philosophy of time, contemporary (complex) urbanism, and pulp entertainment media are complicit in an approach to singularity (as a topic, a thing, and a nonlinear knotting of the two (at least)). It proposes that the urban process and the techno-science of time machines is undergoing rapid convergence. (This seems to be a suggestion whose time has come.) Grasp the opportunity offered by computers to visualize what cities really are, and the dynamics of retro-temporalization are graphically displayed.
That being for which the being of time is opened as an exploratory path is the advanced global metropolis. This is a contention already tacked to a cinematic, mass-media revelation, although one formatted by deeply-traditional dramatic criteria, thus systematically, and automatically, encrypted.
Far more on all this later. (If I say too much now, I’m worried I might save you $4.00.)
Pankaj Mishra explores the limits of Western socio-political teleology:
The most violent century in human history … was hardly the best advertisement for the “bland fanatics of western civilisation”, as the American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr called them at the height of the cold war, “who regard the highly contingent achievements of our culture as the final form and norm of human existence”.
Niebuhr was critiquing a fundamentalist creed that has coloured our view of the world for more than a century: that western institutions of the nation-state and liberal democracy will be gradually generalised around the world, and that the aspiring middle classes created by industrial capitalism will bring about accountable, representative and stable governments – that every society, in short, is destined to evolve just as the west did. Critics of this teleological view, which defines “progress” exclusively as development along western lines, have long perceived its absolutist nature. Secular liberalism, the Russian thinker Alexander Herzen cautioned as early as 1862, “is the final religion, though its church is not of the other world but of this”. But it has had many presumptive popes and encyclicals: from the 19th-century dream of a westernised world long championed by the Economist, in which capital, goods, jobs and people freely circulate, to Henry Luce’s proclamation of an “American century” of free trade, and “modernisation theory” – the attempt by American cold warriors to seduce the postcolonial world away from communist-style revolution and into the gradualist alternative of consumer capitalism and democracy.
“So, what is Urban Future about, really?”
(That’s what mail-order capitalism seemed to threaten in the 1939. The cephalocommercial monstrosity has to have become far more tentacular since. Image via @SlateVault.)
While waiting for the Better Half‘s book to finally reach the shelves (thank you publishing industry), here‘s a taster of what’s inside.
My marginal scrawls are added in bold. For the sake of clarity, therefore, I have subtracted the bolding used in the Williams and Srnicek text. In every other respect, the source text has been fully respected. Most of the annotations made are placeholders for future engagement. It has been broken into three posts, in conformity with the organization of the original.
#ACCELERATE MANIFESTO for an Accelerationist Politics
by Alex Williams and Nick Srnicek • 14 May 2013
Accelerationism pushes towards a future that is more modern, an alternative modernity that neoliberalism is inherently unable to generate.
Since this is a slug, the quite incredible number of problems it manages to compress into nineteen words are being set aside, as effects of compression.
As this blog spirals around to its re-starting point, it fetches back the tasks it has yet to advance upon, including the most basic (announced in its sub-title). Why the ‘Decopunk Delta’? Mostly because that’s where time frays.
+ Golden Age Shanghai is unsettled business, and as things surge forward, they turn back.
+ Art Deco is the world’s lost modernity, as everyone senses, without quite knowing how.
+ Art Deco escaped its time, at the time. It is the pre-eminent time-travel relic of the earth.
+ What Art Deco communicates is vivid, yet still unverbalized.
+ Art Deco fascinates again, today, because it is obscurely recognized as the key to the encrypted meaning of world history, and nowhere is this more insistently hinted than in re-opened Shanghai.
– The ‘-punk’ suffix is pulp-code for any cultural time-travel tool undergoing contemporary development.
The Ningbo Museum, which won a Pritzker prize for architect Wang Shu last year, is a challenging edifice. Combining traditional elements and materials with monumental modernism — in its most uncompromisingly brutalist manifestation — it realizes a peculiar complex of delicacy and terror.
Wang’s signature facades already display the same ambiguity in embryo. His vast sheer planes, shown in the Ningbo Tengtou pavilion at the 2010 Shanghai World Expo (2010), memorialize a demolished past. The bricks and tiles from obliterated villages are recycled into exquisitely tessellated, endlessly absorbing surfaces, sparsely punctuated by irregularly oriented and distributed windows. The tension between crushing scale and intricate composition is immense (and intimate). Subtle drifts of texture and color from the non-uniform materials make the walls into sensual displays of abstract pattern, whilst their massive geometric rigor approaches a state of absolute menace (with an unmistakable military-totalitarian edge).
At Guernica, how Zhuxi’s Neoconfucianism became a hidden inspiration for European High-Modernism. (The cryptic by-ways of tradition have rarely been so intriguingly tracked.)