Tuesday, March 15, 2011

James Burke is Awesome

This Foucault class got me thinking about James Burke again and his series "Connections." I saw this back when I was in High School and it was running on TLC (back when TLC had LEARNING shows -- go figure). Burke's view of history is very similar to Foucault's -- there are so many seemingly random events that come together in history that there is no way to portray history on a linear timeline, much less any way to accurately predict what might happen in the future. Here's a link to it in case anyone is interested in learning more about the series. It's a DVD set and a book. Connections

I'm going to use two quotes from the first episode in my paper on the financial crisis. Burke's illustration of the technological trap can be expanded by Foucault's notion of "technology" where it isn't related only to scientific advancements, but also social, structural, power, etc. advancements that work on us. Anyways, the quotes:

And as the years of the 20th century have gone by, the things we take for granted have multiplied way beyond the ability of any individual to understand in a lifetime. The things around us, the man-made inventions we provide ourselves with, are like a vast network each part of which is interdependent with all the others . . .. Change anything in that network and the effects spread like ripples in a pond. And all the things in that network have become so specialized that only the people involved in making them understand them.
Yea, welcome to post-modernism!

And the technological trap:
This is one of the more perfect examples of the of the kind of technological trap that we set for ourselves: the lift, the elevator; I mean, what is this? It's a steel box with some buttons in it and maybe a trapdoor for emergency. But whoever looks that close except when this happens [lights go out]: Where is it? And even in this situation, closed in, with an escape route that we can't handle, we behave like many of those New Yorkers did: we strike a light and we look around to see how badly things are. And, if we find in this case an emergency button, absolutely great; we sit back, and we wait for help to come. We wait for technology to come back and save our lives, because it's inconceivable that it won't isn't it? I mean if you admit that, you've got to admit that every single day of your life, in some form or other, you unconsciously walk yourself into a technology trap, because that's the only way to live in the modern world. 

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